Frank Vogel is entering the final year of the original three-year contract he signed back in 2019, and if the Lakers don’t want him to be a lame duck this season — unthinkable for a coach that just led the team to a title in his first year and may have repeated if not for injuries — they’ll have to officially ink him to a contract extension soon.
Vogel said at the team’s exit interviews that he hopes “to be a Laker for life,” and his boss, general manager Rob Pelinka, praised the job Vogel has done so far, saying the Lakers “see him as a strong part of our future for sure.” Still, it was clear that neither man wanted to negotiate publicly, preferring to get a deal done in private.
Even so, the extension isn’t done yet, and according to Kyle Goon of the O.C. Register, some members of the organization are “surprised” about that:
While ESPN reported shortly after the season ended that the Lakers planned to engage Vogel on extension discussions, and most expect Vogel will return with a new deal before next season, it has surprised some within the organization that the coach hasn’t received that deal already.
If Vogel does get the extension it was reported the team will offer him, he will be the first Lakers coach to have received one since Phil Jackson in 2007. And it’s fair to say that Vogel would be a well-deserving candidate to break that extension-less streak.
For one thing, he coached the injury-ravaged Lakers to the best defense in the NBA this season, despite the team missing arguably their two best defenders (LeBron James and Anthony Davis) for huge chunks of the season. And this was the season after, again, he helped steer the team to a title. Obviously players have more to do with that than anything and deserve the lion’s share of the credit — as they would in any situation — but Vogel did demonstrate a knack for getting defensive buy-in and pushing the right buttons to generate the correct counterpunch for nearly any situation. It’s hardly his fault that a pandemic-shortened and expedited season filled with injuries derailed the Lakers this year. They were up 2-1 on the team that is currently up 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals before Davis got hurt again. That’s not Vogel’s fault, and it’s easy to think he’d potentially be on his way to a second title if that didn’t happen.
But all that noted, it’s not like the Lakers and Vogel have walked away from extension talks, or at least not that we know of. This still very well may get done, and there is plenty of offseason left for them to agree on an exact number in years and dollars. Still, the fact that it hasn’t yet is surprising, and it’s notable that people in the organization feel that way too. Whether these whispers starting to trickle out will lead to a quicker deal is anyone’s guess, but what happens with Vogel’s deal will be one of the bigger storylines to watch as we all wait for next season.