Less than two months ago, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Lakers were planning to initiate extension talks with head coach Frank Vogel whenever their season ended. That was obviously well before their season issued a screeching death knell amidst injuries in the first round of the NBA playoffs, surely sooner than anyone involved would have hoped, but there are still plenty of reasons for the team to want to keep Vogel around.
For one thing, he coached the injury-riddled Lakers to the best defense in the NBA this season while missing their two best defenders for massive chunks of the year. It was his second-straight top-three defensive finish while in Los Angeles, and despite all the injuries the Lakers dealt with in year two after winning a title in Vogel’s first season, he still managed to finish his second year in L.A. with the fifth-best winning percentage (.657) in Lakers history among coaches to stand on the sidelines for more than 14 games. He trails only Pat Riley, Paul Westhead, Phil Jackson, and Del Harris.
And without injuries causing the Lakers to drop to the seventh seed this season, it’s not hard to imagine Vogel would rank even higher, which should be good enough reason to make him the first Lakers coach to get an extension since Phil Jackson received one in 2007. But while Vogel admitted at exit interviews on Friday that he was entering the third and final year of the contract he initially signed in the summer of 2019, he said he’s going to keep any talks on a new deal behind closed doors.
“I really just prefer those conversations to remain private,” Vogel said. “Obviously I love it here, I love this organization and hope to be a Laker for life. But all that stuff will play out in the right time and those conversations will remain private.”
His boss, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, similarly didn’t want to address the specifics of any extension talks. But Pelinka also had nothing but praise for the job his first coaching hire since taking over the front office himself has done.
“Listen, Frank has done an outstanding job as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. To come into an organization and in his first year to help us achieve the ultimate goal is really incredible, and something that we are so grateful and appreciative of,” Pelinka said.
And while Pelinka also acknowledged that the team obviously didn’t want their season to end this soon, it didn’t sound like blamed Vogel too much for them falling short.
“This year I think he did everything he could to battle through some of the things that our team faced that we couldn’t control, and did the best he could in times of adversity to keep everybody together,” Pelinka said.
So while between those two, it sounds like we won’t hear much about a Vogel extension until if and when it gets done, Pelinka did offer a hint that such a deal could be inked sooner rather than later.
“Frank’s a guy that Kurt (Rambis) and I and the front office really enjoys working with, that does a great job with our players,” Pelinka said. “We see him as a strong part of our future for sure.”
No deal is ever done until it’s done, but it’s hard to get a much stronger endorsement of a coach than that.