Lakers coach Frank Vogel discusses future with team, which didn’t work out: ‘There was just a lot to overcome’
The Los Angeles Lakers — with a roster of six potential Hall of Famers — entered last season with NBA title hopefuls. But after a 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday and a 31-48 record, the franchise will leave without even a playoff appearance.
Many questions await the historic franchise this offseason, not the least of which is the future of coach Frank Vogel. The 48-year-old, who took over for the Lakers in 2019 and helped lead the team to a championship in his first season, faces the possibility of not returning to the sidelines after a lackluster 2021-22 season.
In an exclusive 30 minute interview with Athleticism, Vogel spoke about what awaited him in Los Angeles and tried to explain exactly what was wrong with a team with such high aspirations. He said he did his best to ignore outside noises about his job security.
“It’s not easy to rule it out,” Vogel said. “It’s not fun having these reports hanging over your head or seeing them everywhere you look, especially so early in the season (and) after what we’ve been able to accomplish here. But for me, this expectation pressure has been there since the day I signed.
Vogel put some of this season’s poor record on his team’s overall health, as stars like Anthony Davis and LeBron James missed significant time with injuries.
“Every game you’re fighting against the undercurrent of healthier teams or teams that have more continuity,” Vogel said. “Or teams that are just better. This means that your margin for error is very slim.
One player who didn’t run out of time was former MVP guard Russell Westbrook, who was acquired from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a late first-round pick. Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists on the season, but struggled to be effective in an up and down year. He averaged 29.8 percent on 3.4 3-point attempts per game.
Vogel admitted the team struggled when Westbrook didn’t have James and Davis on the floor with him.
“We didn’t win at a high tempo with Russ and another star and the rest of our cast,” Vogel said. “Whether it’s Russ and AD with Bron out or Russ and Bron with AD out, we just haven’t won in those situations.”
As for what’s next, Vogel wouldn’t comment on the situation, saying, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
For more on what lies ahead and what went wrong for the Lakers from Vogel, read the full exclusive interview in the Go Deeper section below.
(Photo: Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)