The Los Angeles Lakers' season finally, mercifully ended on Sunday with a thrilling and meaningless win over the Denver Nuggets. Almost immediately after the game ended ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that it had been Frank Vogel's final game as coach of the Lakers and that he was expected to find this out as soon as Monday. You know, if everyone had ignored the tweet and agreed to not tell Vogel he was done. That did not happen.
Vogel was asked about the report in his postgame interview.
"My reaction is, uh, I haven't been told shit."
It should come as little consolation to Vogel that this clip will live on forever as a Twitter response. Of course, the fact that he was going to be the fall guy for this Lakers season probably shouldn't be a surprise. It wasn't going to be LeBron James or the constantly injured Anthony Davis. And the Lakers have to be cool about Russell Westbrook until they can find a way to get rid of him. Right or wrong, Vogel was the obvious first domino of the Lakers offseason.
Did they really not tell him that?
If Vogel, who won a title with the team exactly 18 months ago today, really learned about his fate in a press conference, that's pretty shitty. Their minds were not made up during the Nuggets game last night. They couldn't have given Vogel a handshake and a head's up earlier this weekend? This was not treating Vogel like an adult. This was treating Vogel like Adrian Wojnarowski's content.
After the game on TNT, Charles Barkley called out the Lakers for making scapegoats of Vogel and Westbrook throughout the season, summing it up by simply saying, "Frank Vogel is getting screwed." Barkley then pointed out that AD was injured all year and launched into a bit about how old the Lakers were to the point where it sounded like there was a laugh track, except it was just the studio crew and Shaq laughing at his very accurate jokes about the team's age.
It's been a tremendous season for Lakers haters. The team stunk and never contended. They suffered embarrassment after embarrassment and the revulsion was televised. And they capped it all by looking really dumb in not being honest with the guy who led them to a championship through the pandemic. To not have an open, honest discussion with him about the team's plans didn't hurt anyone but the Lakers.
Vogel should remain a highly sought after head coaching candidate. He has a winning record in the regular season and postseason. He coached Indiana to two straight Eastern Conference Finals and won that ring in 2020.
Obviously the Lakers job will garner plenty of interest. If the Lakers can somehow shake up the roster to surround LeBron and healthy AD with some competent young guys, you might just contend for a championship. However, you're also going to have Kurt Rambis and Phil Jackson talking shit about you behind your back to management. And management will be listening for some reason! The dysfunction that kept the Lakers out of the playoffs for six consecutive years is still right there below the surface, covered up by LeBron James deciding he wanted to live in Los Angeles while he waited for his son to finish high school.
LeBron didn't even have to leave for the Lakers to start to look like the lottery team of the mid 2010's again. And if the new guy doesn't start winning quickly, he'll get fired quickly.
So yeah, Frank Vogel got screwed. We just knew he was going to get screwed. The only surprise is how the Lakers leaked it. The guy who replaces Vogel should also be prepared to duck for cover when the next Woj bomb hits.