EL SEGUNDO, CA – Frank Vogel made his introductory press conference as the Los Angeles Lakers new head coach on Monday, May 20. For both Vogel and the Lakers, it is a chance for new opportunities and brand new possibilities. Maybe, even redemption. For now, Vogel is enthusiastic on being named the 27th coach in the franchise’s storied history.
“This is obviously a proud and historic franchise,” Vogel said. “It’s a big honor for me to be hear today, to be responsible for the next chapter of our history. I see a lot of promise, a tremendous amount of promise with what we can be. Obviously, we’ve had some rough years, but what we have with our current roster combined with the vision on how we’re going to build a roster, also combined with…what I hope to put my stamp on the way we’re going to play, I think we can accomplish great things, and I’m excited about that.”
That will only come in the form of winning and making the postseason. The Lakers have not been to the playoffs in the last six seasons. Their last playoff appearance ended with a first round sweep by the Phoenix Suns (2012-2013). The team now have an identity crisis now that Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the team’s former president of basketball of operations, is no longer with the team.
Johnson resigned from his executive post abruptly at the end of the 2019-2019 NBA regular season, leaving a vacuum of leadership in the organization to be filled. Quickly. Whether that turn out to be a negative or positive for the ballclub remains to be seen. Vogel is optimistic the team can defer from any potential outside distractions to focus on the task at hand.
“The focus for our group has got to be to remain in the moment,” Vogel said. “There’s obviously a lot of outside noise as with every NBA team, But there’s been a lot of outside noise we’re going to be tasked with blocking out. There’s going to be a lot of talk of getting our team back into the playoffs and what the Lakers represent, in terms of a tradition and competing for championships. Those are end results things. We’re going to be focused on the work.”
What is certain, though, after the Lakers and Luke Walton parted ways once this past season came to a humble conclusion, the franchise suddenly found itself thrust into national headlines for the wrong reasons. Once Johnson walked off the job, the Lakers became a team that went into full-throttle pursuit mode in finding and naming its next head coach to help steer the franchise back in the right direction.
That includes that individual being in place before the NBA Draft came around in June and having input on the free agency market long before training camp arrives. Vogel was chosen by the Lakers brass to be that guy.
“It became very clear to us in the process of evaluating who our next leader would be that Frank had all of the qualities we were looking for in a leader,” Pelinka said. “First and foremost, he’s incredibly prepared, detailed and organized with his work in the sessions we did at the white board. During the interview process-he stood out with his vision for the game and the structure he wants to play with and the way he would use our roster was really, really impressive.”
There are some people in Lakerland who just might not have a clue Frank Vogel is. In eight seasons as a head coach in the NBA, Vogel has proven himself to be above the competent level among his coaching brethren, going to Eastern Conference Finals twice and piling up a 304-291 overall record.
Much of his success as head coach came in his six seasons with the Indiana Pacers, where compiled a mark of 250-181. During his head coaching tenure with the Pacers, Vogel has the good fortune to coach a fellow by the name of Paul George. Now, he’ll be coaching LeBron James, arguably still the player in the league. And most popular, according to jerseys sales.
Despite finishing out of the running for a playoff spot, the Lakers topped all NBA teams, including the two-time reigning champs Golden State Warriors, in merchandise sales. James is No. 1 in jersey sales, according to the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). Their fan base solidified, thanks to a litany of NBA championships (16), the onus is on Vogel to do something that Walton and Byron Scott were unable to do: make the playoffs.
In order for the Lakers to make that happen they will have to do it his way, Vogel said.
“It’s going to start by establishing a culture of hard work, preparedness, structure on the court, discipline with the way we play and the way we do things, and holding guys accountable,” Vogel said. “Our guys are going to be coached very hard, and they’re going to be challenged, and they’re going to be pushed and coached with the truth. They’re going to be challenged to be at their best, and I look forward to seeing our younger guy grow and everybody come together.”