Sitting at 24-26, the Los Angeles Lakers have vastly underperformed their preseason expectations as a title contender.
A rash of injuries are certainly to blame, with absences from LeBron James and Anthony Davis hurting the most. The Russell Westbrook experiment has also been a rollercoaster, leaving the Lakers in a precarious spot as they try to stay in the playoff mix.
Personnel availability aside, head coach Frank Vogel has come under fire the past couple of months as he struggles to keep the team afloat. During a particularly rough stretch recently it seemed like Vogel would be on his way out as if was reported that he was being evaluated on a game-to-game basis.
But it appears that noise has cooled down as on the “Posted Up with Chris Haynes” podcast, the NBA inside reported that the organization is going to allow Vogel to coach for the remainder of the season. And even more interesting, Haynes reported that it would have been Phil Handy to take over had Vogel been fired:
“The Lakers are moving forward and going to allow him to finish out the season as head coach,” Haynes said of Vogel. “It was dicey there these last couple of weeks. Definitely the Lakers were considering making a move. I was told — sources told me at that time, if there was going to be an interim coach to take over, I think a lot of people probably would assume it was going to be David Fizdale, but I had a lot of people telling me that it would have been Phil Handy to take over as interim head coach.”
Despite winning a title with the franchise in 2020, Vogel was only offered a one-year extension and it is looking like this will ultimately end up being his last season coaching the team unless they are able to turn things around quickly. It is no secret in league circles that Vogel has been under heavy scrutiny, but the head coach has remained even-keeled in his approach even with the outside noise growing louder by the day.
Allowing Vogel to coach the rest of the year removes a massive distraction, but the more pressing issue is whether or not he and the roster can make things work in the coming months. A championship is still the expectation in Los Angeles, but it feels more unlikely that it can happen with each loss.
If Vogel does end up getting fired at season’s end, it will be interesting to see if Handy, who is known as one of the best player development coaches in the league, will get a shot to be the full-time head coach.
There’s no doubt that he and Vogel are focused on making the best of this season still though.
Danny Green believes Frank Vogel is receiving unfair blame
Injuries may come off as a convenient excuse to write off a team’s losing record, but in the Lakers’ case, it is a major factor when parsing out their season. Vogel has understandably received blame for all their losing, but former Lakers players like Danny Green believe the criticism is unfair.
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