The Lakers will enter the 2019-20 season with almost an entirely new team, including a new face on the sidelines.
Los Angeles hired former Pacers and Magic ring leader Frank Vogel in May and since then the Lakers added star Anthony Davis, effectively overhauling their roster in the blockbuster trade, as well as complimentary pieces in Quinn Cook, Danny Green and DeMarcus Cousins.
It’s a lot, especially for a coach who wasn’t the team’s first option — Vogel was the third in line to take over. But he remains positive and is excited for the upcoming season, despite the laundry list of to-dos which includes keeping a careful eye on LeBron James’ minutes.
“The Lakers have always been on the forefront and anywhere LeBron has been, has been on the forefront,” Vogel told Sports Illustrated. “The best experience I’ve had is being in the conference finals against LeBron because that’s exactly what it was like then. Every word I said then was blasted all over the world, all over Twitter and SportsCenter.
“That’s going to be the case here with the Lakers. It’s not something that I’ve not been a part of, but it’s just part of this job. You know, I understand it. I don’t think there’s anything negative about it. I love that our team’s going to be talked about and I love that we’re going to be one of the favorites in the league this year after having coached a number of little engines that could, you know? It’s teams that were all the overachieving type. So I like being viewed as one of the favorites.”
After negotiations fell through with other prospects, the top being James’ former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, Vogel piqued the interest of the Lakers’ front office. He’s had success before getting to the playoffs where Los Angeles has been absent for the past six seasons.
Vogel led the Pacers to five playoff series in six years after being named Indiana’s interim coach in 2011 and has felt an immediate sense of support with his new team — especially from James.
“I did feel support right from the start from LeBron,” Vogel said. “He’s always shown me a great deal of respect dating back to our battles when I was in Indiana and competing with the Heat in the conference finals, and coaching him in the All-Star Game. He’s always shown me a great deal of respect, so I felt like there would be a lot of support, and there was immediately and that’s continued on through up to this point.
“Hopefully, we can work together to build something special.”
Vogel was hired by Orlando in 2016 but was fired at the end of the 2017-18 season. He has posted a 304-291 (.511) career mark in 595 games.