In 2016, then-Pacers president Larry Bird shockingly fired Frank Vogel as coach. Under Vogel, Indiana won 58% of its regular-season games, made the playoffs five of six years and reached consecutive conference finals. With that track record, Vogel quickly landed on his feet. He received interest from the Knicks, Grizzlies and Rockets. The Magic got him with a four years, $22 million contract.
But he went just 29-53 and 25-57 in two seasons with Orlando, which fired him last year. Unsurprisingly, teams weren’t as interested in hiring him. It didn’t help that Steve Clifford, who succeeded Vogel with the Magic, immediately found success with a similar roster.
Vogel was out of the NBA until the Lakers – fresh off a falling out with their first choice – hired him as head coach.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
“I wasn’t coming off the type of success I had in Indiana,” Vogel said. “So I did feel around the league that the interest wasn’t quite as strong … I don’t know if I would say there’s any doubting of myself, but it does take its toll on you. We are human at the end of the day and when you’re not having success as a coach you like to feel like you could take any group and make them play hard, play together, share the basketball, work on a defensive end and win. You know what I mean? But the chips don’t always align that way, you’re not always going to have success.
I believe Vogel was a good coach with the Pacers. I’m not sure whether he’s still a good coach.
That’s not a subtle slight. I legitimately don’t know whether Vogel is still a good coach. The style he used in Indiana – slow-paced, anchoring a big man in the paint defensively – is no longer as effective. Maybe the game has passed him by to some degree.
Vogel will get his chance with the Lakers.
Afterward, we’ll set the narrative.
It’s silly that’s how it works. Vogel either is or isn’t a good coach right now. It’s just too difficult to decide, so we’ll wait to see the results (which aren’t even a great indicator of coaching ability). It’ll either be:
The Lakers were so methodical. They didn’t overreact to a rough couple years in Orlando, where the roster was lacking. While the rest of the reactionary league turned its back on Vogel, the Lakers scooped up a proven success hiding in plain sight.
The Lakers were fools for trying to outsmart everyone. They had LeBron James, Anthony Davis and a clear championship opportunity. And they blew it on a coach nobody else wanted.