When the Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Luke Walton after three seasons, former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue was considered the frontrunner.
After the Lakers initially interviewed four candidates and Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams became the Phoenix Suns head coach, they quickly entered contract negotiations with Lue. Considering Lue’s successful history with LeBron James, it appeared they were going to be reunited in Los Angeles.
However, negotiations ended when the Lakers reportedly only offered Lue a three-year deal and wanted to choose his coaching staff. As the Lakers restarted their coaching search, they quickly hired former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel to the same terms.
With Vogel’s introductory press conference set for May 20, he has already spoken with James, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
Frank Vogel has spoken with LeBron, I’m told. Vogel will be announced as Lakers’ coach Monday.
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) May 16, 2019
And in his first statement as the new head coach, Vogel expressed excitement about the opportunity to coach James and the young core, via Lakers:
“I am very excited for this opportunity to join the Lakers, a prestigious organization that I have long admired,” said Vogel. “I look forward to coaching such phenomenal talent and bringing my strategic vision to the team.”
During the team’s coaching search, hiring a head coach who had ties with James was a heated debate. While some felt James buying into the head coach was the most important priority, some were concerned it would give him too much power over the Lakers.
With Vogel, it is unclear how James feels about him. During James’ four seasons with the Miami Heat, he played against the Pacers three times during the NBA playoffs — including back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
For the Lakers to truly compete for championships again, James and Vogel will need to be on the same page heading into the 2019-20 NBA season. If not, there will be immediate speculation about James wanting assistant coach Jason Kidd to be his head coach instead, especially if the losses pile on early on in Year 2.
After a drama-filled start to the offseason, it appears the Lakers are headed in a more positive direction. Along with hiring Vogel, they landed the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft despite just having a 9.7% chance of moving into the top-four. While there is still a lot of work to be done, Los Angeles can significantly improve their roster.