The writing has been on the wall for head coach Frank Vogel even dating back to last offseason. By only giving Vogel a one-year extension, the Lakers did effectively the absolute bare minimum to avoid making Vogel a lame-duck coach, but have still treated him like one throughout this season.
Giving him an enigmatic point guard that fit horribly with his two stars players and a roster that served to complement none of his strengths felt an awful lot like the Lakers setting up Vogel for failure and making him the scapegoat when things went awry. Predictably, things have done just that, and Vogel’s time with the Lakers does seem to be counting down to season’s end.
UNLESS, that is, he does something that basically feels impossible with this Lakers team: Go on a long playoff run. Sam Amick and Bill Oram’s recent piece for The Athletic revealed that the Lakers would consider keeping Vogel around if he can advance to the second round or conference finals this postseason (emphasis mine):
As we reported in mid-January, Vogel was already close to being fired after the Lakers’ blowout loss at Denver on Jan. 15. With one season left on his deal, all signs point to him being replaced in the summer unless there is, in fact, a stunning playoff run in their future (as one source put it, advancing to the second round or conference finals — unlikely as that appears — would greatly improve his chances). That final decision, of course, is yet to be made.
For one, Vogel getting this Lakers group to the conference finals would be about as likely as LeBron James averaging 56 points per game the remainder of this season, though that may be what it takes to get the Lakers to within reach of the NBA Finals again.
But more importantly, setting arbitrary checkpoints like this doesn’t do anything to fix the lack of chemistry between front office and head coach. This is still a front office that gave an offense-heavy roster to a defensive-minded coach and expected good results. There is no synergy there right now and a trip to the conference finals doesn’t fix any of those underlying issues.
It’s long been best for the two sides to part ways. The front office clearly doesn’t believe in Vogel and, as a result, Vogel isn’t getting a fair shake in Los Angeles. None of this is to say it’s the smart move, but unless the front office starts buying into Vogel’s philosophies — which they haven’t since winning a title — then it’s the right move for the two sides to part ways.