Frank Vogel has been on the hot seat throughout a disappointing 2021-22 season for the Los Angeles Lakers, but things have only gotten harder recently. According to The Athletic’s Bill Oram and Sam Amick, Vogel is being evaluated on a game-to-game basis. They report that he “narrowly avoided” being fired after the Lakers were demolished 133-96 by the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, and had the Lakers lost in similar fashion to the Utah Jazz on Monday, sources believed it could have been Vogel’s last game with the Lakers.
Despite the Lakers pulling off a 10-point second-half comeback, Vogel is very much still coaching for his job, according to The Athletic. The Lakers are a disappointing 22-22 through 44 games, and Vogel’s formerly top-ranked defense has fallen to No. 18 this season due to a combination of injuries and roster turnover. For a team with championship ambitions, those results simply aren’t acceptable.
But Vogel’s job security has been tenuous since before the season even began. When he was initially hired as coach of the Lakers in 2019 he was given only a three-year contract, unusually short for any coach, much less one as accomplished as he was when he got the Laker job. Despite winning the championship in 2020, he was given only a one-year contract extension in the 2021 offseason, suggesting that the team wanted to maintain flexibility should their roster overhaul fail to produce another title.
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Sources told The Athletic that former Lakers forward and current executive Kurt Rambis, an influential voice in the organization even without holding the title or powers of a general manager, made it clear to the staff early in the season that their jobs were not safe. Former team president Magic Johnson also voiced his displeasure publicly after the Denver loss with a scathing tweet that read “After being blown out by the Nuggets 133-96, we as Lakers fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency. Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better.” While Johnson no longer technically works in the Lakers front office, he has a decades-long friendship with Buss and was extremely close with her father, the late Jerry Buss.
Vogel has a chance to boost his stock a bit over the next two games because, ironically, he will be coaching against his two former employers. The Lakers will host the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday before starting a five-game road trip against the Orlando Magic on Friday. Those two games are winnable, but afterward, the Lakers have difficult road games against the Heat, Nets and 76ers. Their schedule as a whole in the second half of the season is the hardest remaining in the league. If Vogel needs to win to keep his job, he’ll have his work cut out for him.