According to Yahoo! Sports, the Los Angeles Lakers are not expected to make any drastic changes by firing head coach Frank Vogel, despite the team losing four of their last five games and sitting at 22-23, good for eighth in the Western Conference.
“I don’t feel like I’m under siege,” Vogel responded when asked if he felt like his job security was in jeopardy, adding that in this league and with this team, there will always be outside noise if the level of play isn’t up to par.
“I’m good at blocking it out. I feel good about the job we’re doing, and obviously we believe the results are going to come. But over the course of an 82-game season with a new group, you’re going to have some ugly nights”
For both the Lakers and Vogel, this quick turn of events makes two years ago feel like an eternity, when the team went 51-9 in Vogel’s first year and won the NBA championship — L.A.’s 17th title — during the league’s playoff bubble in Orlando.
Since that time, however, Vogel has gone just 64-53 with a disappointing first-round exit last year. Following the team’s 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, Vogel stressed that the blame falls on everyone. “We have to coach better. We have to play better. Everything has to be better.”
Los Angeles has struggled in a number of areas, such as defense. They’re allowing 112.8 points per game, the 27th-worst mark in the league. While it’s easy to blame Vogel, the team has undergone a number of drastic changes in the past three years – just four players from the championship team still remain in L.A.
The latest defeat sparked additional controversy when Vogel benched nine-time All-Star — and first-year Laker — Russell Westbrook with 3 minutes and 52 seconds remaining. Up to that point, Westbrook had shot 5-17 with 14 points.
Westbrook would leave to the locker room before the game expired, and opted not to stick around for questions after. On the year, the point guard is averaging 18.5 points per game (his worst total since 2009-10) and a .433 FG%.
Sources told ESPN Vogel had been given the green light by management to coach Westbrook as he and the coaching staff see fit. In response to the move, Vogel stated he was playing the guys he thought would win the game. Lebron James, meanwhile, answered cryptically when asked about Westbrook’s benching.
According to the sources, the coaching staff had been considering pulling Westbrook from late-game situations due to his inconsistencies and inability to follow up on scouting reports. For Vogel, the move is certainly a way to shake things up for the better – or it could create more conflict within the locker room.
Making things more difficult for the Lakers has been Anthony Davis’ sprained MCL. The All-Star center, who’s been limited to 27 games this season, has been cleared for contact but remains without a timetable for return.
The pressure on Vogel — whose contract runs until 2022-23 — will likely continue to ramp up over the next several games. After playing the 8-38 Orlando Magic, Los Angeles will face the Miami Heat (29-16), Brooklyn Nets (28-16), and Philadelphia 76ers (26-18). Further embarrassing losses could spell an end to the 48-year-old’s tenure in Hollywood.
Andrew Rhoades is a Contributing Reporter at The National Digest based in New York. A Saint Joseph’s University graduate, Rhoades’ reporting includes sports, U.S., and entertainment. You can reach him at email@example.com.