This time last year there was optimism at the Staples Center. The Los Angeles Lakers were about to announce LeBron James’ signing and a new era was to begin under head coach Luke Walton. That new era did not dawn despite the Lakers posting their best record (37-45) since 2012-13.
Now, nearly 12 months after James signed his LA Lakers contract, the team is ready to start again. In spite of rumors that James wants to be traded (or perhaps the team wants to train him), the Lakers appointed new head coach Frank Vogel.
Who is Frank Vogel?
Vogel most recently coached the Orlando Magic for two sub-.500 seasons. The former Kentucky man’s Orlando teams managed just 29 and 25 wins, respectively.
The former Magic man had been a rising star in the NBA coaching world prior to his time in Orlando. Vogel coached the Indiana Pacers for six seasons missing the playoffs in just one of those seasons which also happened to be the only time the team finished below .500.
Vogel had served as a long-time assistant in the NBA prior to his first job. He worked with the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Pacers as a No. 2 before getting the nod as head coach in 2011 in Indiana.
Can Frank Vogel get the best out of LeBron James?
A former Kentucky University student, Vogel’s basketball playing days were nothing to write home about. The highest he reached at Kentucky was Rick Pitino’s junior varsity team.
Former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd will be Vogel’s No. 2 in La La Land. Kidd had been rumored as a potential candidate for the head coach’s job, but will now sit next to Vogel on the sidelines. Kidd’s addition gives Vogel an authority that he may never have had previously with the likes of James.
Kyrie Irving is now rumored as a possible summer target by the Lakers. Irving’s best years came as James’ sidekick as a Cleveland Cavalier. A reunion could resurrect Irving’s career which has been blah since joining the Boston Celtics. Irving’s poor playoff performance showed he isn’t an NBA leader but a far better secondary player ala Scottie Pippen.
Will LeBron James be a Los Angeles Laker in 2019-20?
It has been a bit of a shock this week to see so many stories about James possibly being on the way out of Los Angeles.
James is 34-years old and more than once in 2018-19, his best years looked past him. He played a career-low 55 games during the regular season and missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2005. James is slowing down and the Lakers paid for it. Sure, he can still pull off a big performance like his 51 points against the Miami Heat last November. But the consistency is alluding him.
The NBA great’s decline may not actually be new, rather it was just masked by playing in the Eastern Conference.
Los Angeles is trying to get the best out of a player that will make over $37 million next season. Vogel’s signing could improve James but the Lakers need to give him a supporting cast that will carry him as he declines.