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“Vogel was the scapegoat” — NBA executive shares dark prospects for Lakers front office

NBA executives believe Frank Vogel will be all right. But the Lakers front office will have their hands full if they churn out another mediocre season.
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Russell Westbrook and head coach Frank Vogel

Rob Pelinka and Frank Vogel

Calls for Frank Vogel’s firing started way back in the regular season when the Los Angeles Lakers clearly weren’t the championship contenders they were expected to be. Now that he’s been released by the team, most NBA fans and analysts would agree that Vogel was thrown under the bus. This observation has been echoed by an unnamed NBA executive, who also shared his dark prospects for the Lakers front office.

Scapegoat

In a report by Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, two NBA executives shared their thoughts on the Vogel firing. Both of them agreed that Vogel was the scapegoat. 

One executive hinted that there might be some dysfunction within the Purple and Gold front office. If things don’t turn out well, which means that if the Lakers do not return to their winning ways, more heads are about to roll.

“One executive said, ‘Frank was definitely the scapegoat. One more year for that front office, and if the results don’t drastically improve, they could be in line for some more changes.’

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Another executive said, ‘Vogel was the scapegoat. There’s no question. I don’t think they treated him very well on the way out. I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s very well respected in the coaching community. He’ll be able to pick his spot as a high-level assistant if that’s something he wants to do.’”

Vogel’s release from the Lakers proves that not even winning a championship secures your job long-term. But as the executive pointed out, this could even be a blessing in disguise for Vogel. The Lakers take a lot of pride in their winning culture - they are the ultimate championship or bust team. So much so that they seem unwilling to let things progress naturally. They want to win. And they want to win now. The 2021-22 season proved that this relentless attitude could be a double-edged sword.

The clock is ticking for Rob Pelinka

The executives did not drop a name, but they’re clearly referring to Rob Pelinka, who pulled the strings to bring in Russell Westbrook via trade. The Westbrook-LeBron James tandem did not look good on paper whatsoever. Yet Pelinka still pulled the trigger, thanks to ample manipulation from James himself, who was itching to find another playmaker to take the load off him.

As Lakers fans saw, this didn’t happen at all. James didn’t tweak his playstyle to accommodate Westbrook. Some even observed that he was consciously padding his scoring stats, actively chasing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list. 

Vogel tried a plethora of ways to sync Westbrook into the system. Reports reveal that Vogel concocted close to 40 starting lineups. It would not be very reasonable to say that the head coach did not make an effort to make the roster he was given to work.

This will be an interesting offseason for the Lakers. Pelinka has a lot of work to do and it would be curious to see if he has learned from his mistakes. Let’s note that LeBron is also in the last year of his contract. This might be the final year we see him donning the Purple and Gold or even an NBA jersey. 

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