Frank Vogel is as good as gone from the Lakers. After a second straight season of mediocrity, reports strongly indicate that the veteran coach will not return to Los Angeles in October.
The question now is, who might replace him?
According to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, several names have already been connected to the franchise, including Doc Rivers, Quin Snyder, Juwan Howard, Mike Brown, and Steve Clifford.
Several sources speculate that if the Philadelphia 76ers falter in the playoffs, Mike D’Antoni could get the call to reunite with executive Daryl Morey and All-Star guard James Harden. If so, and as Fischer reported, Doc Rivers could be a viable candidate for the Lakers.
Similarly, competing teams expect the Utah Jazz to go in a different direction this summer, making Quin Snyder potentially available. As Marc Stein wrote in March, Snyder is a “probable” candidate for the Lakers but also the San Antonio Spurs, should coach Gregg Popovich retire.
The Lakers do not seem interested in saddling a first-time coach with championship expectations. That may not apply to Juwan Howard, who has ties to Pelinka and James, was an assistant with the Miami Heat and previously interviewed with the franchise in 2019. While the Lakers may have interest in Howard, it’s unclear if he’s open to leaving Michigan with two of his sons on next year’s roster.
If Rivers and Snyder aren’t available, Fischer also listed Mike Brown and Steve Clifford as possibilities. The list will undoubtedly grow, assuming Vogel is out. It’s vital that the Lakers make the right hire, but that may only matter if the roster improves over the offseason.
While nobody knows exactly what happened to the Lakers this season, there is no question that everybody expected better. Not even Vogel could avoid calling it a major disappointment.
At least now, the focus can finally shift to the undoubtedly busy time ahead.
With a team full of veterans, and no time to waste, it makes sense that the Lakers would prioritize a candidate with experience. In that way, Doc Rivers could be their guy, considering his Championship win in 2008. Snyder, who has coached for almost a decade now, could also be favorable for keeping the Jazz competitive year after year.
Regardless, the task of leading this Lakers team to prosperity requires the perfect “voice” and choosing that guy will be much easier said than done.
Whoever they pick will likely be the last to coach James, and it’s important that he’s someone who can bring out the best in the team and make the most of the final chapter of the King’s legendary career.
Firing Vogel would really be just the first step in a long and critical process.