The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Utah Jazz last night.
By the time the Lakers and Jazz tipped off on Monday night, sources said, Vogel was coaching for his job after he narrowly avoided being fired in the wake of the 37-point loss in Denver 48 hours earlier. Had a scene like that repeated itself against the Jazz, many believed it would have been Vogel’s last game.
Vogel, who coached the Lakers to a championship in 2020 and whose contract runs through the 2022-23 campaign, is being evaluated on a game-to-game basis and remains at risk of being fired soon if the progress doesn’t continue, sources said. It’s unclear how much Monday’s win relieved the pressure that surrounds him.
With the Lakers (22-22) now seventh in the West and the midway point of the season behind them, sources say the organization’s decision-makers are closely monitoring the key question of whether Vogel still has command of the locker room.
The Lakers host the Pacers tomorrow before a six-game road trip with games against the Magic, Heat, Nets, 76ers, Hornets and Hawks. That’s survivable – but also perilous.
From the outside, it’s difficult to tell whether Vogel still has buy-in from the players. Firing him might help the team.
But Vogel is not the Lakers’ biggest problem.
Russell Westbrook fits horridly and, at age 33, is no longer good enough to overcome those problems through sheer force of will. Anthony Davis has been injured. A supporting cast of mostly minimum-salary players has not produced enough reliable contributors.
Of course, front offices don’t blame their own flawed roster constructions. It’d be far easier for Rob Pelinka to fire Vogel.
Los Angeles could blame injuries (though this historically old team is more susceptible to injury). Lakers owner Jeanie Buss even said Vogel wouldn’t get judged until the team gets fully healthy.
But that stay of execution has apparently been rescinded.
For Vogel to keep his job, the Lakers seemingly need to win more – soon.