Frank Vogel

Lakers Notes: Vogel, Westbrook, Trade Targets, Johnson

Prior to the Lakers‘ game against Indiana on Wednesday night, head coach Frank Vogel addressed recent rumors about his tenuous job security, suggesting he’s unfazed by reports that state he’s on the hot seat and is being evaluated on a game-to-game basis.

“I don’t feel like I’m under siege,” Vogel said, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s not hard to do my job; I’m very focused on the task at hand. I’ve always been that way.”

Although Vogel downplayed concerns about his status, his decisions down the stretch in the Lakers’ loss to the Pacers seemed to reflect some added urgency. As McMenamin writes in a separate story, Vogel removed nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook from the lineup during crunch time after Westbrook continued to struggle with his shot and failed to execute on defense. Vogel said after the game he was “playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game.”

According to McMenamin, the Lakers’ coaching staff has been debating for weeks whether to remove Westbrook during late-game situations, but had hesitated due to concerns about how it would affect the guard’s psyche. The staff finally pulled Westbrook in the fourth quarter on Wednesday after receiving assurances from management that it supported the hard-line stance, sources tell ESPN.

Westbrook left the arena after the game without speaking to reporters, but it’s probably safe to assume he wasn’t thrilled to be on the bench for the final 3:52 of the loss. “Would you think that would bother Russ not being in a late game?” teammate LeBron James asked rhetorically when reporters pressed him on the subject.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • James expressed no desire to see Vogel replaced when asked on Wednesday about the coaching situation. “Coaching staff has been great,” LeBron said, per McMenamin. “They put us in position to succeed, and it’s up to us to handle the business, so there’s always things that we all can do better, but there’s no blame.” Veteran forward Carmelo Anthony took a similar stance: “Frank’s not out there. It’s up to us to go out there and execute and play basketball and win some games.”
  • The decision to bench Westbrook adds even more intrigue to the ongoing Vogel saga, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes. Both Oram and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Vogel’s job isn’t in immediate jeopardy and that the head coach is traveling with the team to Orlando for Friday’s game. The Magic have an NBA-worst 8-38 record, so it seems safe to assume a loss tomorrow wouldn’t bode well for Vogel.
  • In an article for Bleacher Report, Eric Pincus examines the Vogel situation and considers possible roster moves for the Lakers. Sources tell Pincus that Ben Simmons, Jerami Grant, Harrison Barnes, and Myles Turner are among the potential targets L.A. has looked at, but it’s hard to imagine the team having the ammunition to outbid rival suitors for any of those players.
  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Lakers forward Stanley Johnson said he isn’t sure whether the Lakers will keep him beyond his second 10-day contract, but he’s trying to “give (his) best effort” to show he deserves a full-season commitment. Spears’ piece includes a few other interesting quotes from Johnson, including his account of how an “honest conversation” with Raptors president Masai Ujiri last year helped inspire him.

Lakers’ Frank Vogel On Hot Seat

9:20pm: The Lakers have “no current plans” to fire Vogel, sources tell Brad Turner and Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. This response certainly reads less like an emphatic denial of the rumor that Vogel is on the hot seat for Los Angeles, and rather a half-hearted vote of confidence.

Turner and Woike reveal that Los Angeles GM Rob Pelinka and Rambis spoke with Vogel and assistant coach David Fizdale following the team’s 125-116 loss to the Kings last Wednesday about figuring out how to improve the team’s on-court results, their third such meeting recently.

Rambis subsequently attended a Lakers pregame coaches meeting this past Monday for the first time this season and pushed for reinserting traditional centers Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan into the team’s rotation, despite both players not inspiring much confidence in their play to this point in the 2021/22 season.

8:40am: Frank Vogel was coaching for his job on Monday vs. Utah, according to Bill Oram and Sam Amick of The Athletic, who hear from sources that there’s a real chance the Lakers‘ head coach would’ve been let go if the team’s losing streak had extended to four games last night.

Oram and Amick report that Vogel “narrowly avoided being fired” after the Lakers’ 37-point loss to Denver on Saturday and that he continues to be evaluated on a game-to-game basis, meaning he’ll likely remain firmly on the hot seat going forward. It’s not clear to what extent Monday’s victory relieved the pressure on him, The Athletic’s duo writes.

The Lakers’ decision-makers are keeping a close eye on the situation and monitoring whether Vogel still has “command of the locker room,” per Oram and Amick.

Vogel has been under pressure for much of 2021/22 campaign, with Lakers executive Kurt Rambis informing the coaching staff in the fall that there was a mandate to right the ship after an underwhelming start to the season, sources tell The Athletic.

Shortly after Rambis conveyed the front office’s message, Vogel entered the health and safety protocols and missed six games. The Lakers went 1-5 under David Fizdale and then won four straight games when Vogel returned, which seemed to bode well for his job security. However, that streak was followed by three consecutive losses, including Saturday’s embarrassing blowout in Denver.

The Lakers, projected in the preseason as the favorites to come out of the West, currently have a 22-22 record and are in play-in territory at No. 7 in the conference.

Los Angeles has had to deal with a series of injuries that have hindered the team’s forward momentum. LeBron James has missed 11 games; Anthony Davis has been unavailable for 17 games and hasn’t played since December 17; and Kendrick Nunn, who got most of the team’s taxpayer mid-level exception in the summer, has yet to make his debut.

If the Lakers continue to fall short of their expectations, Vogel would be a convenient scapegoat. Despite leading the franchise to a championship in 2020, he had just one year tacked onto his current contract when he signed an extension in the offseason, so he’s only locked up through the 2022/23 season.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Nunn, Johnson, Vogel

The Lakers have cleared Anthony Davis to begin on-court, full-contact workouts, according to Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Davis, who hasn’t played since December 17 due to a sprained left knee, underwent a reevaluation on Monday and team doctors determined that recent testing showed no damage to the knee.

Although Los Angeles hasn’t provided a specific timeline for Davis’ return, people with knowledge of the situation tell Woike and Turner that the big man could be back during the club’s upcoming six-game road trip. That trip will begin on Friday in Orlando and runs through Sunday, January 30.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • While the update on Davis was relatively positive, the same can’t be said of point guard Kendrick Nunn. As Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group relays, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Monday that Nunn’s right knee “didn’t respond well” during his ramp-up process, and his Lakers debut isn’t imminent. “Bone bruises are tricky, and his timeline is delayed,” Vogel said. “Still have no firm timeline on it, but he’s pulled back from workload until it calms down.”
  • Stanley Johnson, back under contract on his third 10-day deal, scored 10 fourth-quarter points on Monday vs. Utah and played a key role in helping the Lakers snap their three-game losing streak. As Turner writes for The Los Angeles Times, Johnson’s impact and role keep growing and he’s making a strong case for a rest-of-season commitment.
  • In case you missed it, Vogel is firmly on the hot seat, with the team said to be evaluating him on a game-to-game basis. In his latest Substack column, Marc Stein argues that, while Vogel isn’t blameless in Los Angeles’ up-and-down performance this season, holding him culpable for the team’s struggles is “outright laughable.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, S. Johnson, Vogel

LeBron James started his second game of the season at center Friday night, and that could be the lineup tweak that helps the Lakers survive until Anthony Davis returns, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. James continued his recent hot streak with 43 points and 14 rebounds, and the added spacing created plenty of opportunities for his teammates.

“This could be something that makes the game easier for him,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s not wrestling so much and there’s more space for him to be a roller, there’s just a lot of positives to that. Can’t really get away with it with certain matchups on the other end and obviously when AD comes back he’s going to play a load at the five and then we can play this smaller lineup as well.”

The small-ball approach is familiar for point guard Russell Westbrook, who was with the Rockets when they adopted a center-less lineup two seasons ago. Vogel doesn’t want to make that type of commitment, saying the decision on when to use LeBron in the middle will depend on matchups.

“You play Houston, Christian Wood at center, that’s a clear, ‘Yeah, let’s put Bron at center.’ That’s an easy one,” Vogel explained. “Next game, Steven Adams, biggest, strongest guy in the league; let’s play Dwight (Howard) at center. That’s an easy one. These next few games in the middle, there’s gonna be a lot of in-between types of decisions that we have to make on a game-by-game basis.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • James marked his 37th birthday this week, but his performance suggests he still has a few good years left, notes Bill Oram of The Athletic. There are two considerations that are likely to delay LeBron’s retirement — he needs about two more seasons to threaten the career scoring record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he’s two years away from getting the opportunity to play in the NBA at the same time as his son. “I’m on the other side of the hill,” James said, “so we’ll see where the game takes me. We’ll see where my body takes me and my mind. As long as my mind stays fresh and my body stays with that, I can play the game.”
  • Stanley Johnson got to live out his childhood dream of playing for the Lakers when they signed him to a hardship contract, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Now he has a chance to stick with the team for the rest of the season, likely filling an open roster spot once the expected Rajon Rondo trade is completed. “Stanley is huge in what we’re trying to do,” said assistant coach David Fizdale. “With his motor and with his defensive intensity and prowess, we can really use that right now.”
  • The Lakers’ poor performance during the five games while Vogel was in the health and safety protocols should boost his job security, Buha states in a separate story.

COVID-19 Updates: Vogel, Lue, Pelicans, Raptors, Pokusevski

One Los Angeles team is getting its head coach out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols today, while the other has placed their coach in the protocols.

The Lakers got the good news, as Frank Vogel has cleared the protocols and will be back on the sidelines for the team on Friday night vs. Portland, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). David Fizdale will return to his role as Vogel’s lead assistant after serving as the acting head coach for the last 12 days.

Meanwhile, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has entered the protocols, according to an announcement from the team. Lue, the 10th head coach to be affected by the protocols this month, will be replaced in the short term by assistant Brian Shaw.

Here are more protocol-related updates from across the NBA:

  • The Pelicans got Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Naji Marshall, and Jose Alvarado back at practice today following their respective stints in the COVID-19 protocols, tweets Christian Clark of New Orleans isn’t entirely out of the woods though — center Jonas Valanciunas has entered the protocols, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • According to Blake Murphy of (Twitter link), Raptors rookie Justin Champagnie has exited the protocols, leaving Isaac Bonga as the only player from the team’s standard roster still affected. However, one of Toronto’s replacement players – D.J. Wilson – has now entered the protocols, Murphy notes.
  • Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski is no longer in the protocols and will be available for Friday’s contest vs. the Knicks, says Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

Frank Vogel, Kent Bazemore Placed Into Protocols

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, along with Kent Bazemore, tweets Bill Oram of The Athletic. Assistant David Fizdale will take over Vogel’s duties until he can return.

L.A. now has eight players either in the protocols or sidelined by injuries, but the team still has enough for tonight’s game in Chicago, Oram adds (Twitter link). Trevor Ariza will suit up, but the Lakers don’t believe he’s ready to make his season debut after ankle surgery, so they will only have nine players available.

Vogel is the third head coach in the protocols, joining the Pacers’ Rick Carlisle and the Kings’ Alvin Gentry.

Pacific Notes: Vogel, LeBron, Lue, Warriors, Iguodala

Lakers coach Frank Vogel has faced increased scrutiny recently, but owner/governor Jeanie Buss said she’s going to reserve judgment until the team is completely healthy, according to Mark Medina of

Until we’re 100% healthy, I don’t think you can really make any judgment,” Buss told at halftime of the Lakers-Celtics game on Tuesday. The Lakers won the game, 117-102, to move to 13-12 on the season.

Buss seemed a bit perturbed by the question, but said the Lakers are connected as an organization, noting that Vogel attended a season-ticket holder event Monday with Buss.

We’re as connected as any organization can be,” Buss said. “I really don’t know what you’re looking for me to say. I would say until we’re 100 percent healthy, I won’t make any judgments about anything.”

The Lakers have dealt with several injuries this season; LeBron James has missed 12 games (various reasons), Talen Horton-Tucker was sidelined for 13 games after thumb surgery, and Trevor Ariza (ankle) and Kendrick Nunn (knee) have yet to suit up this season.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • LeBron James would still love to play in the NBA with his son Bronny, writes Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group. Bronny is a 17-year-old junior for Sierra Canyon High School.
  • Not many things excite Clippers coach Tyronn Lue during games, but perfectly executed plays are among them, Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group relays. Swanson notes that Lue prefers to stay impassive on the sidelines for strategic reasons.
  • With the returns of Klay Thompson and James Wiseman on the horizon, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will face challenging, yet desirable choices, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. The Warriors are tied with the Suns for the best record in the league at 20-4, and their depth has been a major strength.
  • Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala, who has missed the last 10 games with knee swelling, could return Wednesday against the Trail Blazers. Kerr said it’s a “possibility,” per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Slater also notes that rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody will play a couple games in the G League before returning for the team’s five-game road trip, which starts Saturday.

Pacific Notes: Vogel, Lakers, Fox, Kings, Wiseman, Klay

Asked on Monday about the criticism Lakers coach Frank Vogel has received this season and the job he has done, LeBron James didn’t exactly provide a full-throated endorsement for Vogel, but suggested that he and his teammates – not the head coach – bear responsibility for the team’s up-and-down start, as Bill Oram of The Athletic and Dave McMenamin of ESPN relay.

“I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” James said. “Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor.”

Vogel is less than two years removed from taking the Lakers to a title in his first season on the job, but the club had a disappointing first-round exit last season and is just 12-12 so far this year. Although Vogel signed a contract extension during the offseason, that deal tacked just one year onto his current contract, so he’s only locked up through 2022/23. Still, he said he’s not concerned about facing increased scrutiny.

“There’s going to be criticism with this job,” Vogel said, per McMenamin. “It’s something we’re all accustomed to. And I’ve been a coach for 10 years, I’ve seen it all. Is it more national? Yes, it’s more national. Is there a bigger fanbase in this market in L.A.? Yes, there is. But it’s been there for every head coach, and it’s something I’m not unfamiliar with. So it just comes with the job.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Executives around the league think that if the Kings make a big move to shake up their roster, De’Aaron Fox might be at the center of it, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. General manager Monte McNair has drafted Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell since taking the reins of the front office in 2020, while Fox was selected by the previous regime.
  • The Warriors‘ public messaging about James Wiseman‘s recovery timeline following meniscus surgery has been a little inconsistent, but it has become increasingly clear that he won’t return until sometime in the new year, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, who notes that Wiseman’s timeline has been similar to that of Jaren Jackson Jr. last year — the Grizzlies’ big man missed about eight-and-a-half months after undergoing meniscus surgery.
  • Klay Thompson won’t accompany the Warriors on the team’s five-game road trip that begins on Saturday in Philadelphia, head coach Steve Kerr said on Monday (Twitter link via Slater). Golden State’s home games on Dec. 20 and Dec. 23 have been cited as possible return dates for Thompson.

Los Angeles Notes: Vogel, Davis, LeBron, Ibaka

Amidst speculation about his job security, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel lit a fire under his team on Tuesday, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic.

The Lakers trailed by nine at half, but dominated the second half 67-33 after Vogel gave a fiery halftime speech, leading to the team’s largest margin of victory of the season, a 117-92 win over the Kings. Vogel said the speech came out of necessity.

Every now and then the coach has to light a fire under his team,” Vogel said. “And today was one of those games.”

Dwight Howard said his coach told the team that its effort wasn’t good enough.

His whole point was, ‘Stop talking about wanting to win a championship and not giving the correct effort,'” Howard said, per Oram.

Here’s more from L.A.:

  • Anthony Davis is finding his voice as a leader with LeBron James sidelined with COVID-19, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “It’s like I’m being tested with my leadership,” Davis told Yahoo Sports following Tuesday’s game. “‘Bron has been out with injuries and now also with the COVID situation, so it’s a good test for me. It’s a good experience for me to lead these guys and the good thing about it, I have other vets on my side who’ve been in the game for a while to help me through the obstacles. It’s a good test, not just for our team, but for me to lead these guys.”
  • Speaking of James, Davis said he’s doing well and is asymptomatic so far, tweets Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group.
  • Veteran big man Serge Ibaka, recently returned from back surgery, gave the Clippers‘ offense a boost as they battle through a slump, writes Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group. Ibaka had 13 points and six rebounds Monday against the Pelicans, shooting 5-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep. The Clips could really use more of that type of output, as they currently rank 25th in the league in offensive rating. The Clippers are 2-5 in their last seven games and 11-10 on the season.

Lakers Notes: Ariza, Vogel, Bradley, Westbrook

As Lakers forward Trevor Ariza continues to recover from an October 6 scope of his right ankle, he will remain unavailable for Los Angeles for the immediate future, per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Goon notes that an Ariza reincorporation into lineups for L.A. would help the club use big man Anthony Davis at the center position more frequently.

Head coach Frank Vogel said that Ariza remains “a ways away” from suiting up for Los Angeles, Goon writes. Without an explicit timeline for Ariza’s 2021/22 season debut, the 6’8″ veteran will soon be re-assessed by team doctors when he officially has been out for eight weeks, writes Mike Trudell of

“I don’t have a definite date or anything like that,” Ariza said. “It’s all on when the doctors clear or the way my body feels and responds to more loading, more work. That’s kind of the gauge on when I’ll be able to be out there safely.”

There’s more out of the Arena:

  • With the Lakers having sputtered to an 11-11 start, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated contends that blaming head coach Frank Vogel for the team’s problems is short-sighted. The team’s significant roster churn appears to be the prime culprit. The Lakers’ main errors this season, Mannix writes, appear to have been the front office’s trade for pricey former All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook and the decision to let guards Alex Caruso and Dennis Schröder depart in free agency.
  • An MRI has revealed that Lakers combo guard Avery Bradley has suffered a UCL sprain in his right thumb, according to Mike Trudell of As a result of the injury, Bradley will miss tonight’s contest against the Kings. The 30-year-old has started 16 games of the 21 games he has played for the Lakers this year, averaging 5.0 PPG and 2.5 RPG over 22.2 MPG.
  • New Lakers starting point guard Russell Westbrook has put up typically impressive, albeit inefficient, counting stats during his first two months with his hometown club, but Malika Andrews, Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins of ESPN’s NBA Today (video link) wonder if L.A. might already be regretting its decision to go all-in for the aging vet.