Opinions about the Los Angeles Lakers are flying hot and heavy. Make no mistake, the franchise has been in disarray for years now, but now, it’s finally out in the open. Lakers fans are organizing “protests.” Lakers haters are enjoying every minute of the dysfunction of this storied franchise.
All things considered, the picture for the Lakers next season is slowly coming together. While the biggest news of the week may be getting the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA lottery, the Lakers new head coach is exciting too.
Frank Vogel vs. Tyronn Lue
The debate will rage on, but when the Lakers offered Ty Lue a three-year deal and he turned them down, everyone laughed. “The Lakers can’t even get Ty Lue to coach them!”
I get it, everyone loves to see the giant fall (don’t mind the fact the giant has been on the floor for six years), but in the end, the Lakers not getting Ty Lue was a good call. Listen, Ty Lue was the guy Lebron James wanted and we all know why. Lebron wanted a head coach he could completely control. I don’t care what anyone says, Lebron ran that team in Cleveland. Cleveland didn’t even believe in Ty Lue.
Lebron left Cleveland and Lue was fired six games into the following season. What does that tell you? I wrote a few weeks ago that Lebron was not bigger than the Lakers.
Hiring Ty Lue would have confirmed that the Lakers were giving in to his demands. I understand Lebron is a star. I understand this is Lebron’s team. I understand he is here for the next three years. None of that changes the fact that this is not Lebron’s franchise and it will never be.
Whether by dumb luck or not, the Lakers made the right decision to not allow Lebron to run the franchise.
Frank Vogel is Underrated
While the talking heads laughed and called it “utterly ridiculous,” a quick look at the numbers tell a different story. Vogel got the Indiana Pacers interim job in 2010 after the firing of Jim O’Brien. Vogel impressed early and they named him the full-time head coach. During his time in Indiana, all he did was take the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals in back-to-back years and the playoffs in four out of five years.
In those back-to-back conference finals trips, Vogel lost to Lebron James and the Miami Heat first in seven, then in six. Vogel managed to get the best years out of players like Roy Hibbert and current Laker Lance Stephenson and Vogel was instrumental in the development of Paul George. Vogel finished in Indiana with 250 wins and 181 losses which was good for a .580 win percentage.
Nothing Magical about it
After losing his job in Indiana, Vogel was hired by the Orlando Magic. The firing of Vogel was an interesting situation. Pacers boss Larry Bird himself admitted it wasn’t because of Vogel. According to sports illustrated writer Rob Mahoney, “Give Frank Vogel a roster of even moderate competence and he will return you a top-10 defense. That quality can be hard to find in a basketball coach… Vogel wasn’t let go because he did a poor coaching job. Bird even said as much in Thursday’s press conference.”
Although he wasn’t jobless for long, his time in Orlando wasn’t great. A brief glance at Orlando reveals a franchise that has struggled to do much of anything since Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard each left, respectively. Since 2010, the Magic have only made the playoffs three times. All three of those times have been first-round exits.
Keep in mind, in the weak Eastern Conference, the Magic making the playoffs isn’t a huge accomplishment. But even the roster construction during Vogel’s time in Orlando wasn’t great. Elfrid Peyton, D.J Augustin, and a young Nikola Vucevic made up a so-so core.
There really just wasn’t much to work with for Vogel. This year coach Steve Clifford took over the Magic and led them to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Magic finished two games over .500. But it took a career year from Nikola Vucevic and Terrance Ross to do it.
Time will tell
Maybe Vogel won’t work out. Maybe he and Lebron won’t find a way to coexist. Or, maybe, just maybe, Vogel’s fiery attitude and demeanor are exactly what a young Lakers team need to light a fire under them.
Lebron came to Los Angeles for the business opportunities, that’s for sure, but Vogel won’t back down from Lebron. No one wanted this Lakers job. With a young core and an aging star, not many can make heads or tails of this roster.
Personally, I think Vogel is exactly the type of personality they need. Couple his demeanor with his intensity and defensive mindedness, the Lakers might just have something. One thing is for sure, it was better than allowing Lebron to select a babysitter for three years.
Guess what? With Vogel agreeing to bring Jason Kidd on staff, if it doesn’t work out, there is another option. Sure does seem like Vogel is betting on himself by agreeing to a three year deal even Lue turned down. Personally? I wouldn’t bet against him.