At some point during the next season, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to encounter some turbulence. And when that happens, #BenchBodyLanguage Twitter is going to have all eyes on every interaction between LeBron James, Jason Kidd and Frank Vogel, and you can bet that even if we don’t get reporting, we’ll get some kind of speculation about Vogel being on the hot seat, or Kidd gunning for his job, or something similar.
That’s just what happens when you have an assistant coach with head coaching experience foisted onto the current head coach by the organization, and especially when it’s an assistant with Kidd’s history of coup attempts, and when the head coach is a guy the organization settled on after striking out with their top two candidates.
But while rumors about Kidd taking over for Vogel may feel inevitable, so far everyone is trying to tamp down such speculation, first when Vogel outlined why he is comfortable with Kidd and actually wanted him on his staff, and now when Kidd talked about the opportunity to work with Vogel (via ESPN):
“When you talk about Frank Vogel, he’s a great human being, great coach, and I’m just lucky to have the opportunity to learn under him. To be able to help him when he asks for help from my past experience as a head coach, but also just as an older player, to be able to help him understand some of the things that those guys are going through.”
Coup jokes aside, and whatever you think of Kidd as a person, the point he makes about having a former player to relate to current players is a legitimate one. Vogel himself has acknowledged that as much as he’s done in the NBA, he’s never played in it, and he likes to have assistants that can help with that potential blind spot. That demonstrates good awareness of his strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to adjust as a result.
Does all this nice talk mean that Kidd will never ascend to the rank of head coach during his time with the Lakers? Color me dubious, but only time will tell. Maybe he and Vogel really do respect each other this much, and have formed a tight bond really, really quickly. Maybe Kidd really isn’t thinking that far ahead.
The latter scenario especially is totally realistic. It’s not like these things are usually planned way ahead of time. There are just points where an organization enters choppiness in which power vacuums arise, and people try to fill them. On some level that’s just human nature, as everyone wants to be at the top of their field.
As noted above, all indications are that Kidd isn’t entering this job with that in mind, but we’ll see if that changes when an opportunity to move up arises. So far, so good on that front, but it’s only August.