Frank Vogel mostly hit the right notes as the Los Angeles Lakers introduced him as their 31st coach in franchise history, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still legitimate questions to be asked about how he ended up in this position.
For one thing, the Lakers clearly wanted Tyronn Lue more, as evidenced by the fact that they actually tried to hire him before negotiations flamed out spectacularly with both sides pointing the finger at the other. And while there has been mixed reporting on whether or not the Lakers actually offered their job to Monty Williams, it’s at least clear that they looked very closely at those two coaches before even seriously considering Vogel.
And because Lakers management had declined to talk about their coaching search with the media over the last several weeks, what was supposed to be a day to introduce Vogel instead turned into a (justified) cross-examination of general manager Rob Pelinka, who among other things was asked what went wrong with Lue and Williams — while Vogel was sitting right next to him, no less. It was as awkward as it sounds.
Here’s what Pelinka had to say (via Spectrum Sportsnet):
“I think the important thing with any process is to be open-minded, to be methodical and to be prepared. And I think at the start of this, we had a committee of people internally that we had many names (of possible coaches). Frank was one of those strong names, and throughout the process he just continued to emerge as someone who had those qualities I talked about at the beginning of this, and we celebrate that.
“He is the coach, he is the right guy for this job. Everyone is in line with what he stands for and we’re going to fully support him, and really look forward. I think whether it’s free agency, or it’s the draft, or whether it’s picking a coach, you make your decision and you support it, and then you move forward. We’re not going to do a lot of backward looking, we’re gonna look forward with hope and optimism about what Frank stands for and what we have in the organization, and just look forward to doing the work.”
As uninformative as that was, there really isn’t anything else Pelinka can say. Reporters kind of have to ask, because it would be nice to get on-the-record clarity about what went wrong, but it’s hard to blame Pelinka for not wanting to answer, and doubly so with Vogel sitting right next to him and at least 10 cameras trained on them.
Really, Pelinka is right about what the Lakers have to do. It’s fair for the public to wonder what went wrong in the coaching search, but while it might help the Lakers to tell their version of the truth about events, they clearly seem to feel that it won’t, and that is their right. All they can do now is hope that they made the correct choice in picking Vogel as a backup option, and stand behind him now that they’ve put him in charge. Based on Pelinka’s words, it seems like that’s what they’re set to do.