Frank Vogel reaches deal to be Lakers’ new head coach, Jason Kidd joins staff
In a surprising twist that seemed unlikely a week ago, Frank Vogel has reached a deal to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, two people with knowledge of the hiring process told USA TODAY Sports.
They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly until the Lakers made an official announcement.
Vogel, a former head coach with Orlando and Indiana, wasn’t among the initial four candidates who interviewed for the job after the Lakers fired Luke Walton. But after Monty Williams accepted the Phoenix Suns coaching job and negotiations between former Cleveland Cavaliers Tyronn Lue fell apart, the Lakers re-opened the search.
They zeroed in on Vogel, who impressed the Lakers and received an offer.
Former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd will join Vogel’s staff as an assistant coach.
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Vogel did not have a lot of success in his two years in Orlando (2016-18) during a rebuilding effort, and when a new front office was hired, Vogel’s days with the Magic were numbered.
However, he had success with the Pacers, going 250-191. In 2013-14, Vogel led the Pacers to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 56-26 record but lost to the Miami Heat and LeBron James in six games in the conference finals.
The previous season, the Pacers were 49-32 and lost to the Heat in seven games in the conference finals.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, general manager Rob Pelinka and senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis were involved in the interview process. Phil Jackson’s distant presence influenced the hire, too. When Jackson, the former Lakers coach and Buss' ex-boyfriend, ran basketball operations for New York Knicks, Vogel interviewed for the job and thought he was going to get an offer. Instead, the Knicks went with Jeff Hornacek.
Vogel comes to the Lakers with the reputation of a high-character individual who is well-liked around the league. He established a tough-nosed identity with the Pacers, who regularly were one of the top defensive teams in the league during his tenure.
Frank Vogel compiled a 304-291 record in seven-plus seasons with the Pacers and Magic. (Photo: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)
Vogel also poses the right temperament of giving players freedom but holding them accountable. He can by fiery with his players and referees, though he has never coached someone like James. Paul George was an All-Star with Vogel in Indiana, but was not at James’ level.
How will James and Vogel co-exist? While James tried to stay out of the hiring process, he is friends with Lue, and the pair won a championship together in Cleveland. It’s vital that Vogel have James’ buy-in.
That’s where Kidd, who also interviewed for the Lakers job, can help. James and Kidd established a relationship during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and in 2013, James called Kidd "one of the best point guards to ever play the game."
In a recent interview with ESPN before Kidd interviewed for the Lakers job, he said, "When you talk about the best player in the world, you always are going to say yes because as a coach or as a teammate, he’s always going to make you better because you’re going to work.
"As a coach, X's and O's, you got to be on point. And as a teammate, you’re going to work extremely hard because you know he’s going to need you to make that shot or come up with a defensive play. And so, that would be a great honor to coach any elite basketball player, and I’ve got that opportunity in Giannis (Antetokounmpo). And hopefully somewhere down the road, I can have another star."
Kidd on Vogel’s bench has the potential for problems if the line of authority is ever blurred, and Vogel takes the job knowing the Lakers have a built-in replacement if there isn’t success under him.
ESPN first reported the news.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
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