Is Kurt Rambis undermining Frank Vogel on Lakers?
Among the headwinds facing Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel right now may be the influence of executive Kurt Rambis.
Dan Woike of the LA Times examined the dynamics between Vogel and Lakers management in a feature this week. Woike reported that Rambis, who is the Lakers’ senior basketball advisor, personally attended the team’s pregame coaches meeting on Monday for the first time all season. Rambis had previously only done so virtually, Woike adds. The report also says that Rambis advocated for the Lakers to use larger lineups with Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan during the meeting.
Woike’s feature touches on many of the other issues affecting the Lakers right now, and you can read it in full here.
The Lakers were coming off one of their worst losses of the season Saturday, getting routed by the Denver Nuggets 133-96. They responded on Monday though with an excellent win over a tough Utah Jazz team. Howard started at center and played 22 minutes. Jordan did not play at all though.
Vogel has largely gone away from lineups that feature traditional centers, instead using LeBron James at the 5 for extended minutes. Howard has not played more than 23 minutes in a game since November, and Jordan (who had an incident with Vogel earlier this season) has only played 20 total minutes for the team since Dec. 23.
As for Rambis, he is a Lakers great who won four championships as part of the team’s “Showtime” era in the 1980s. He has also become one of the most influential voices in the team’s front office since returning to the Lakers in 2018. Rambis has even been described as the Lakers’ “shadow president.”
But Rambis was an unsuccessful head coach in the NBA, compiling an awful 72-173 (.294) record across three teams. One of the criticisms of Rambis as a coach was that he failed to evolve as the league did. Now his push for the Lakers to go old-school and use bigger lineups seems to directly contradict and undermine Vogel’s approach. That is worrisome, especially with the rumors that Vogel’s job may be in imminent danger.
Rambis and wife Linda are powerful figures in the Lakers’ front office. They even reportedly took the lead on some major decisions for the team before. On top of making sure that the Lakers win games, Vogel may now have to contend with the influence of Rambis on his day-to-day game plan as well.
Photo: Jan 25, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; New York Knicks associate head coach Kurt Rambis in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports