Veteran coach Frank Vogel has advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in his career and has a unique opportunity to lead the Lakers to their first championship in 10 years, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press writes.
Vogel, who’s spent over 20 years in the league, has gotten close to reaching the Finals more than once in his career. His memorable stint with the Pacers as head coach (2011-16) included a seven-game loss to the Heat in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, followed by a six-game defeat to the Miami the following year.
“This career achievement is so far away from where I’m at mentally right now,” Vogel said after the Lakers’ Game 5 win over Denver. “I’m just trying to play my part. Give our guys a plan, make sure that everybody is playing together.”
Vogel started his coaching career as an assistant with the Celtics in 2001, left in 2004 to join the Sixers as an assistant, then held advanced scouting jobs with the Lakers (2005-06) and Wizards (2006-07). In the years that followed, he joined the Pacers as an assistant, became head coach, left for a two-season stint with the Magic and was hired by the Lakers as head coach in May of 2019. All of that, and at long last, he’s in the NBA Finals.
“He’s been great. He’s been unbelievable,” Lakers star LeBron James said of Vogel. “I mean, it’s been a crazy obstacle course for our franchise this whole year. … He’s been able to manage it the whole time. Bringing in guys, losing guys. He’s just always been the anchor, and our coaching staff has been right behind him. I can’t say anything more than that.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division tonight:
- Lakers guard Alex Caruso is continuing to deliver in key moments for the team, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. Caruso recorded 11 points, two rebounds and four assists off the bench in Game 5, helping the Lakers finish off the Nuggets and advance.
- Jovan Buha of The Athletic explores the Clippers’ offseason to-do list, beginning with the free agency of Montrezl Harrell. Los Angeles also has Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson and Patrick Patterson set to reach the open market, with JaMychal Green holding a $5MM player option.
- The Warriors should prioritize an upgrade at the center position this offseason, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. The Warriors own the No. 2 pick in the draft and could select Memphis center James Wiseman if he isn’t drafted by Minnesota, or they could turn their attention to a veteran center in free agency.