Their Los Angeles Lakers have made a brutal 1-5 start this season. Although that record is partly due to LA playing against simply superior competition, it was still difficult to see a team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis floundering at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Last year, many of the Lakers’ struggles during their 2021-22 season were wrongly blamed on former head coach Frank Vogel. When the season ended in a boring 33-49 finis and even missed the play-in tournament, Los Angeles fired the coach who had guided it to the 2020 title just two seasons earlier.
It was never about Frank Vogel.
The problem has always been the Lakers front office.
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How much of this is actually Rob Pelinka, as opposed to the fact that Pelinka is seemingly paralyzed by multiple Buss kids and Rambuses, as well as stars James and Davis, is irrelevant to this conversation. However, the team’s hierarchy of decision-makers is collapsing, what matters is that Frank Vogel didn’t create the miserable squads of last year (or this year).
Throughout the two seasons of Vogel’s tenure, LA did well, the team ranking in the top three for defensive efficiency thanks in large part to great full-backs like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso. Trading for Russell Westbrook in the summer of 2021, Los Angeles had ultimately overreacted to a disappointing 42-30 record in 2020-21 when stars James and Davis were injured for much of the season (after the briefest turnaround from year to year) . in the history of one of the big four US team sports) and the club finished seventh in the west.
Vogel felt like a lame head coach for much of his final season in Los Angeles, and rumors circulated that he might be replaced mid-season. He deserved better considering his club ceded vital minutes to several players (Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Stanley Johnson, Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, DJ Augustin, Kent Bazemore, Rajon Rondo) who are currently not in the league. You can’t have a top 10 defense with staff that old. Phil Jackson and Pat Riley would struggle to make this team much better than a first-round loss.
New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham appears to be showing promise, he too has just been saddled with a rough roster. Once Los Angeles does the right thing and flips Russell Westbrook in a deal worth $47.1 million to add multiple role players who actually fit James and Davis, we’ll have a better sense of what this team can do under Ham.
What will Vogel do now? There have been rumors that he would join the staff of new Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla as an assistant, although that has not happened yet. He spoken with the Utah Jazz over opening their head coach in the summer before the club ultimately opted to hire former Celtics assistant Will Hardy. For now, it looks like Vogel will continue to await his next NBA opportunity.