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#pounditThursday, May 19, 2022

Former NBA coach offers strong defense of Frank Vogel

Frank Vogel looking on

One former NBA coach thinks that the recent blame being heaped onto current Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is wildly misplaced.

Ex-New Orleans Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy reacted this week to the news that Vogel’s job with the Lakers may be in imminent danger.

“This is just ridiculous,” tweeted Van Gundy. “He won a championship less than 2 years ago. The Lakers have had injuries and a roster that, to be kind, has some flaws. Firing Frank would just be an attempt to scapegoat Frank for the mistakes others have made.”

Van Gundy is absolutely right here. If anyone deserves blame for the Lakers’ struggles this season, it is management and not Vogel. General manager Rob Pelinka put together a raggedy roster when he traded away quality assets for a poor fit in Russell Westbrook and then filled out the team with a bunch of mismatched veterans, many of whom are now out of the rotation.

Lakers president and controlling owner Jeanie Buss has also quietly fostered a culture of nepotism over the last several years. Whether it be hiring Magic Johnson as their president of basketball operations or bringing in this other ex-Lakers great who may now be undermining Vogel’s leadership, Buss has given power in the Lakers organization to those who might not necessarily deserve it. That may only be exacerbating the team’s issues.

LeBron James’ arrival in 2018 largely managed to cover up the fact that the Lakers have been one of the worst-run teams in the NBA over the last half-decade or so (maybe longer if you count the years that Buss’ older brother Jim ran the team). Van Gundy’s point that firing Vogel would deflect from the errors that others in the Lakers organization have made is one that is well-taken, especially coming from someone who coached in the league for 13 years. Even former Lakers seem to feel the same that Van Gundy does.

Photo: Oct 10, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel during the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

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