A month into the head coaching search, the Los Angeles Lakers eventually hired former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel.
Vogel was not part of the team’s initial list of candidates but was mentioned as a potential lead assistant coach on former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue’s coaching staff.
While it is a standard for the head coach to choose his/her staff, Lue was willing to accept those terms if the Lakers had offered him a five-year deal. Instead, negotiations quickly ended when the Lakers were not willing to offer more than a three-year, $18 million deal — the same length as LeBron James’ remaining deal if he exercises his player option.
As Lue was not given the standard five-year deal like most head coaches these days, James reportedly was ‘taken aback’ by this development, according to Ohm Youngmisuk and Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
James was taken aback by how the Lue negotiations broke down, a league source told ESPN, but James “liked” several Instagram posts touting the Vogel/Kidd hires over the weekend. It has been James’ only public endorsement of the team’s recent hires.
While James has not addressed the team’s new coaching staff heading into Year 2, he has had a ‘strong’ relationship with assistant coach Jason Kidd since their time together during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, according to Youngmisuk and McMenamin:
James has a strong relationship with Kidd, multiple sources told ESPN, which may have helped Kidd’s leverage in landing the job on the Lakers’ bench.
Since the conclusion of the 2018-19 NBA season, James stayed extremely quiet about former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s resignation. However, the 34-year-old eventually addressed the situation on HBO’s “The Shop” where he questioned the decision and timing before their final game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Although James reportedly did not want to involve himself in the team’s coaching search, the reality is he did not have to say anything. After winning one championship in three consecutive NBA Finals appearances against the Golden State Warriors, Lue was easily the best candidate for James with no guesswork on how they would work together.
Heading into the 2019-20 season, James buying into Vogel’s philosophies will be crucial to the team’s success if they want to compete for championships. Through the Miami Heat-Pacers battles in the 2013-14 Eastern Conference Finals, there may be mutual respect between both sides already.
With that being said, it will be interesting to hear James’ first reaction to Vogel outside of liking some Instagram posts.