The Los Angeles Lakers started the team’s overhaul by dismissing head coach Frank Vogel after he led L.A. to a 33-49 record in his third season with L.A.
The decision seemed inevitable after the Lakers failed to qualify for the 2021-22 Play-In Tournament. Although several factors played a role in the Purple and Gold’s failure, the franchise decided it was time for a leadership change — and that it would achieve so by bringing in a new head coach.
That’s what Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka told Vogel in “a very open and honest meeting” on Monday.
“Earlier today I had a chance to get with Frank Vogel and upstairs in a meeting and just want to thank him for three very strong years as the head of our basketball coaching department,” Pelinka said in a press conference.
“We expressed gratitude for the three years of being able to work together with a capacity of trust and collective mindset and collaboration. And just let him know that it was a point in the Lakers history’ where we felt like it was time for a change in our leadership voice and those are difficult things to do. Frank was grateful for the opportunity he had and we had a conversation about how this is just an inflection point where he goes from being the leader of the Lakers to part of our legacy and especially our championship legacy. So I would characterize it as a very open and honest meeting and was thankful for the time with him and just wanted to start today with expressing our gratitude to him, to his family for their three years of service here.
“Frank is a great man and a great coach and will go on to do great things and we’re very thankful that we had that three seasons with him as a part of everything we do.”
Pelinka emphasized the collaborative nature of the Lakers’ decision to part ways with Vogel, which came after consultation with owner Jeanie Buss and President of Business Operations Tim Harris. The general manager added the change doesn’t take away from the overall positive assessment of Vogel’s work.
“I think today is not gonna be a day of finger-pointing or unwinding all of the specific reasons,” Pelinka said. “We just felt organizationally at the highest level, it was time for a new voice and those decisions are made at the very top level in a collaborative way by our basketball operations department and ultimately with Jeanie [Buss] and Tim [Harris] and the leaders of our organization and we just felt like it was time for a new voice.
“And that’s not to say anything against the incredible accomplishments that Frank Vogel has had here. He was a great coach here and he’s going to go on to be a great coach somewhere else, we just felt like it was time for a new leader and that’s why we made the decision today that we did.”
When asked about the Sunday night reports of Vogel’s firing that came out right after the win over the Denver Nuggets, as well as whether Buss was present during the meeting with Vogel, Pelinka said: “First of all, the basketball decisions made here are made by the basketball operations department so I take full responsibility for any decision that’s been made.
“In terms of media reports that are speculative and unsourced, we don’t spend any of our time reacting to that type of information in terms of how we make decisions here.”
Pelinka emphasizes importance of ‘strong alignment’ on roster decisions between head coach and GM
Pelinka dodged questions over the 2021-22 roster’s compatibility with Vogel’s coaching style. However, he said the new head coach would be involved in the roster-building process — adding “there has to be a strong alignment” between the general manager’s vision for the team and that of the new head coach.
“I think our roster did not work,” Pelinka said. “We did not have the season that our fans expect and we have to fix those things. And I think one of the things that we’ve done and will do as we look to hiring a new coach is to include that coach in the process of how to make a roster work together and I think in terms of the future decisions that we have to make about our roster, some of those will come once we pick our coach which will clearly be before free agency in July.
“But there has to be a strong alignment between coach and GM in terms of roster decisions. That said, I don’t think every time you make a roster decision you’re gonna make a perfect one or have no mistakes, that’s just part of making choices. But there will be a strong sense of collaboration on our future roster decisions as there was with Frank in his tenure here.”
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