Vogel's pick as Lakers coach raises questions

LOS ANGELES • For all their glamour and history, the Los Angeles Lakers, as currently constituted, lack experienced front-office leadership and a clear vision.

With that in mind, it was no surprise that the embattled National Basketball Association club's interminable coaching search, which began shortly after Magic Johnson's departure as president last month, has landed on a compromise candidate who will neither inspire nor offend.

On Saturday, the Lakers agreed to hire Frank Vogel on a three-year contract to become their next coach, with former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd joining as an assistant.

The month-long search for Luke Walton's replacement took numerous twists and turns involving higher-profile candidates.

The Lakers first missed out on Monty Williams, the Philadelphia 76ers assistant, who has signed as coach of the Phoenix Suns for next season.

They also reportedly made a three-year offer to former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who reportedly backed out of negotiations because he sought a five-year pact.

Unlike Williams, Vogel is not a widely respected former NBA player. Unlike Lue, another former player who coached the Cavaliers' 2016 title-winning team, he has not guided a championship team.

But Vogel boasts eight years of NBA head coaching experience, compiling a career record of 304-291 in six seasons with the Indiana Pacers and two with the Orlando Magic.

  • 51.1%

  • Frank Vogel's record as a head coach: 304-291.

The 45-year-old, who began his NBA career as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics in 2001, was fired by the Magic last year after a 25-win season.

He is perhaps best known for taking the defensive-minded Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014, when they lost to LeBron James' Miami Heat in two hard-fought series.

But his reputation took a hit in Orlando, where he struggled to mould younger rosters into winners, and that track record raises several questions as he steps into the Lakers gig.

He has not coached an above-average offence since 2012, and he is inheriting a mediocre defence and a roster that lacks a starting-calibre centre.

The Lakers, who have not made the play-offs in six years, have been mired in factional battles since ex-owner Jerry Buss' death in 2013.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2019, with the headline 'Vogel's pick as Lakers coach raises questions'. Print Edition | Subscribe