One of the concerns coming into the 2019-20 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers was the makeup of their coaching staff.
Frank Vogel was hired as the head coach, but they added Jason Kidd — who also interviewed for the job — as his lead assistant.
Kidd was believed to be a preferred choice of LeBron James and with his history of dealing with head coaches, many believed it was only a matter of time before Kidd took over if Vogel struggled. Adding in long-time head coach Lionel Hollins as another assistant coach and some wondered if Vogel could even control his staff — let alone the players.
So far, however, things have been great for the Lakers on the court as well as off. Jared Dudley recently spoke about the dynamic between the Lakers coaching staff, saying they have a family approach, according Sam Amick of The Athletic:
“Some people might be saying (Kidd) is gunning for his job, (but) I see a family approach. I see them laughing. I see Vogel laughing with Kidd and Lionel Hollins. You see how they all have their own role. …Obviously Vogel’s a big defensive guy, (so) you have (him) breaking down the opponents. Phil Handy (who is very popular among NBA stars and who took part in the last five Finals), going over certain personnel. (You have) Jason Kidd, because of familiarity with certain players. … When he speaks offense you’re more keen. You’d think that would be a little rocky trying to figure people out man, but he’s a player’s coach. He asks for opinions. He said ‘This is what I like to do, what are your guys’ views on it,’ and eventually he makes a decision.”
Dudley also pointed to Kidd’s personal growth as a coach for him being able to accept and learn as an assistant despite having obvious higher goals:
“I think that (Kidd) is more keen to listen (in this role compared to the Bucks). The first thing he ever told me was like, man, ‘Phil Handy’s really good.’ That was the first thing he even told me. …And that ended up being the truth, so yeah, he’s joking around more with players – come on, he’s a player. And he knows that for him to get back to his goal — I think that’s everyone, every assistant wants to be a head coach — you have to take steps to get back up there.”
Many great teams disintegrate from within far before another team gets the better of them and there was a widespread belief that could be a possibility with the Lakers. Vogel has never been a huge personality or outspoken person so with a ton of experience on the coaching staff — as well as a veteran team — some believed he could be taken over.
Thankfully for the Lakers, that has not been the case as they are all on one page. It has led to the team’s best start in a decade and if things continue on this path, more accomplishments are to come.