It has been a tumultuous last few days in the world of the Los Angeles Lakers, to say the least. Despite securing their biggest win of the season against the Utah Jazz on Monday, that didn’t stop furries of rumors reporting that a loss that night might have been the end of Frank Vogel’s tenure as Lakers head coach.
Those rumors intensified throughout the week, and reached a peak on Wednesday night when the Lakers fell to the lowly Indiana Pacers and Vogel chose to bench point guard Russell Westbrook in the final minutes. However, reports stated that the Lakers front office has no plans to fire Vogel at this time.
Carmelo Anthony, who has played a massive role in Vogel’s system as a volume shooting big man, defended the Lakers coach and put the blame on the players after another ugly loss.
“As far as Frank goes, I don’t know what story you’re talking about, you know I don’t read the hoopla so I don’t know what’s going on with that so it would be hard for me to speak on that,” Anthony said. “But we got to do it, it’s up to us. Frank’s not out there.
“It’s up to us to go out and execute and play basketball and win some games. When we’re doing it in that fashion, it looks good, it feels good, everybody’s happy. But when we don’t and we lose games, it looks bad, guys are frustrated at whatever. So it’s just a matter of sticking through this and playing through it and winning some games. Getting on the road, this is a big road trip for us, I can tell you that.”
When asked how Vogel has done handling the ups and down of the season, Anthony once again came to the defense of his coach. “He’s handling it, I mean he’s here. He comes in upbeat every day, he gets on us when he needs to. He’s doing a good job of putting us in that position to see what we’re doing wrong.
“I think the easiest thing to do is to blame Frank, blame the coaching, but we’re out there playing, we’re the ones that got to go out there and do it, we can’t just keep putting it on Frank,” Anthony stated. “Well we’re not putting it on him, I don’t want to say keep, I know how powerful that sounds so disregard ‘keep.’ So I know how hard it is to do what we got to do to put us in situations to win games and us going out there and being able to execute whatever the game plan is.”
At this point, it’s hard to point to Vogel as the reason for the team’s struggles. Injuries, a COVID outbreak and questionable roster construction have all been factors, even if Vogel has made some unpopular decisions in the process.
Anthony — at least publicly — did a good job at attempting to take some heat off of Vogel and put it on the players. After defeating the Jazz, there was no reason a Pacers team missing Myles Turner should have had any chance, and that absolutely is an indictment on the players.
Now, we’ll have to wait and see how long this saga continues. The trade deadline will provide a chance for the front office to either show a commitment to Vogel or an admission that they don’t believe he should be the coach moving forward.
LeBron James passively defends Vogel
James was another player given a chance to defend Vogel following their loss to the Pacers. He gave props to the coaching staff, but was overall passive in his remarks.
“Coaching staff has been great,” James said. “They’ve put us in position to succeed and it’s up to us to buy in and handle business. There’s always things that we all can do better but there’s no blame.
“Listen, I’m not in the business of pointing fingers or pointing blame or trying to put a quote at the end or at the start of someone’s commentary of what they feel our coaching staff or Frank is or what Russ is or what I am or AD. If it’s not positive for me, I’m cool. It’s not my lane. I’m not a negative person.”
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