Sunday, January 23, 2022

Lakers won’t evaluate Frank Vogel’s third season ‘until we’re 100 percent healthy,’ Jeanie Buss says

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The Los Angeles Lakers gave head coach Frank Vogel a nearly impossible task this season. He had to figure out how to incorporate Russell Westbrook into the existing LeBron JamesAnthony Davis infrastructure while simultaneously adjusting to 12 new players in total and a slew of early-season injuries, and naturally, the team got off to a slow start as a result. The Lakers are 13-12 through 25 games, and while fans have begun to wonder about Vogel’s job security, team owner Jeanie Buss made it clear that she is not ready to evaluate her coach quite yet. 

“Until we’re 100% healthy, I don’t think you can really make any judgment,” Buss told NBA.com’s Mark Medina Tuesday. The Lakers have inched toward healthy this season with James and Talen Horton-Tucker now back in the lineups, but neither Kendrick Nunn nor Trevor Ariza have played yet this season. Ariza was widely expected to start for the Lakers this season, and Nunn is one of only five players on the roster making more than the minimum salary. 

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Vogel was given a contract extension before the season, but reports indicated it was only for one year beyond the initial three-year term of the deal he signed in 2019. The Lakers reportedly refused to go beyond three seasons for Vogel or fellow 2019 candidate Ty Lue, suggesting that the team either lacked confidence in any available coach as a long-term leader or wanted to maintain flexibility for the post-James period that grows closer with each passing year. 

The Lakers have not hesitated to make coaching changes in the past when they’ve felt necessary. They fired Mike Brown after only five games in the 2012-13 season, and Paul Westhead lost his job to Pat Riley in 1982 despite winning the championship in 1980. This is not typically a patient organization, but in this case, the Lakers seem content to wait out their injuries and see what Vogel can do with a healthy roster. 

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