LA Lakers: Frank Vogel sacked as head coach after missing out on NBA play-offs

Frank Vogel and Talen Horton-Tucker of the LA Lakers
Frank Vogel (right) joined the Lakers in 2019

The Los Angeles Lakers have sacked head coach Frank Vogel after a poor campaign which saw them miss out on the play-offs.

Vogel’s team won 33 of their matches, but lost 49 in a season which saw them finish 11th in the Western Conference.

His final match on Sunday was a 146-141 overtime win over Denver Nuggets.

Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manager, said: “This is an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one we feel is necessary at this point.”

Speaking after the win over Denver, Vogel had said “we’ll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow,” as reports suggested he was going to lose his job.

Confirming the news on Monday, the Lakers issued a statement thanking him for his efforts, with the 48-year-old having led them to the NBA championship in 2020.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank both on and off the court,” added Pelinka, who is also the Lakers’ vice-president of basketball operations.

“Frank is a great coach and a good man. We will forever be grateful to him for his work in guiding us to the 2019-20 NBA championship.”

There is currently no frontrunner to succeed Vogel and the process of finding a sixth full-time head coach since Phil Jackson retired in 2011 is expected to take some time.

Vogel is the only coach, besides Jackson, to have led the team to a championship in 30 years.

Lakers’ star player LeBron James, 37, said he had nothing but respect for Vogel, despite failing to make the NBA post-season for only the fourth time in his glittering 19-year career.

“I respect Frank as a coach, as a man,” added the four-time NBA champion. “The partnership that we’ve had over the past few years has been nothing but just candid, great conversations.

“He’s a guy who gives everything to the game.”

After joining the Lakers in 2019 on a three-year deal, Vogel helped the team to the 2020 title in Orlando, Florida. He was rewarded with a contract extension at the end of 2020-2021 as his side earned the reputation for being one of the best defensive teams in his first two seasons in charge.

However, they finished the season in the bottom 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, ranking 21st in defensive rating after finishing first in 2020-21 and third in 2019-20.

Missing out on the play-offs was hugely disappointing for the Lakers. They lost 121-110 to the Phoenix Suns which was, at the time, their seventh straight defeat.

The Lakers entered the campaign as one of the favourites in the Western Conference, however, multiple factors contributed to them falling below expectations, including injuries to several key players.

James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook only played together in 21 matches – and they held a record of 11-10 in those games.

In total, the Lakers lost 18 of 24 games following the All-Star break, with only the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers finishing with worse records during that period.

Vogel is likely to be in demand. In spells at Indiana, Orlando Magic and the Lakers, he has won a championship and reached the conference finals on three occasions. He ends his time in Los Angeles with a 127-98 record.

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