Report: Lakers land on former Pacers coach Frank Vogel as next head coach

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

After multiple twists and turns, the Los Angeles Lakers coaching search has reportedly reached what the team hopes to be its final destination.

Former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel has reached an agreement with the Lakers to be the team’s next head coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The news was later confirmed by the Los Angeles Times’ Tania Ganguli.

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Vogel will bring eight years of head coaching experience and a 304-291 record with him to the Staples Center, where expectations remain undoubtedly high as fans grow increasingly desperate to see the contender promised by the arrival of LeBron James last year.

The Lakers’ coaching search finally ends, hopefully

Vogel’s hiring will hopefully end what has been one of the most embarrassing sagas in Lakers history. After a season featuring disaster after disaster on and off the court, the Lakers fired Luke Walton and commenced a search for the coach that could take James back to the playoffs (which sounds like a simple thing to do).

It was not simple. The Lakers were quickly rebuffed by Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams, who opted to instead join the also-dysfunctional Phoenix Suns. Then the Lakers arrived at Tyronn Lue, who won a championship with James in Cleveland.

Lue was confident enough he’d be the Lakers’ next coach that the team was reportedly featured on his birthday cake, but then he arrived at the negotiating table.

The Lakers insisted on only giving Lue a three-year deal, which would have caused Lue and James’ contracts to end after the same season. Lue instead demanded five years, which was what Luke Walton got when he was hired at a much less critical juncture in the Lakers’ history.

The Lakers also pushed for the addition of Vogel and Jason Kidd to the team’s coaching staff, while Lue understandably preferred to select his own staff.

The two sides never broke their impasse on contract length, and Lue ended up walking away as the basketball world laughed at the once-mighty franchise.

With Vogel, the Lakers appear to have gotten their way. His contract is three years in length, according to Wojnarowski, and a certain someone will be working directly under him.

Jason Kidd to join Frank Vogel’s Lakers staff

Kidd will join Vogel on the Lakers in a “prominent assistant coaching role,” according to Wojnarowski.

Kidd’s name was repeatedly floated during the coaching search and appeared to be significant possibility for the top job. The former star point guard was fired last season after a 23-22 start with the Bucks, capping off a 139-152 tenure in Milwaukee.

Under Mike Budenholzer the next year, the Bucks rocketed to an NBA-best 60-22 record and will soon be playing for a trip to the NBA Finals.

Despite the Bucks immediately leaping to the top of the NBA after his departure and a one-year coaching stint with the the Brooklyn Nets that ended in a failed coup against the team’s general manager, the Lakers were reportedly quite impressed with Kidd.

Who is Frank Vogel, the Lakers next head coach?

A New Jersey native and graduate of Kentucky, Vogel has spent his entire coaching career on Eastern Conference NBA teams. The 45-year-old got his start under Rick Pitino with the Boston Celtics, then got his first head-coaching shot when he led the Pacers to the playoffs as an interim coach. That earned him the full-time job.

During his professional peak with the Pacers, Vogel’s teams were known for strong defense anchored by Paul George and Roy Hibbert. Vogel’s Pacers reached the Eastern Conference Finals two years in a row in 2013 and 2014, but were eliminated both times by James’ Miami Heat.

There's a new head coach in LeBron James' house. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
There's a new head coach in LeBron James' house. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

After missing the playoffs the season after that and losing in the first round the following year, the Pacers opted to not renew Vogel’s contract. The team hasn’t advanced past the first round since. Vogel would later take over the Orlando Magic, where he was fired after two seasons in which he never posted more than 30 wins.

Vogel was initially reported to be a possibility for Lue’s top assistant until negotiations with the former Cavaliers coach broke down. Now, Vogel will take over the team and collaborate with the player that kept him out of the Finals for two years in a row.

Vogel isn’t a slam dunk hire like some Lakers fans had hoped, but he at least brings a winning NBA coaching record to the table unlike literally every other candidate left in the Lakers’ search. Most importantly, he might have been the best the Lakers were ever going to do.

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