Lakers Rumors: 'No One' Thinks Firing Frank Vogel Would 'Dramatically' Change Results

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 25, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 17: Head coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at Crypto.com Arena on January 17, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel might still have a job because the team believes firing him would be an exercise in futility.

The Lakers are eighth in the Western Conference at 23-24, which has left them scrambling for solutions about how to turn things around. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Los Angeles isn't prepared to jettison Vogel in part because "no one believes changing the coach will yield dramatically different results."

On Jan. 18, The Athletic's Bill Oram and Sam Amick reported the coach's job was in "serious jeopardy" and that he was "being evaluated on a game-to-game basis and is at risk of being fired if progress doesn’t continue."

However, the Los Angeles Times' Dan Woike reported L.A. had "no current plans" to make a coaching change.

At the time of The Athletic's report, the Lakers were coming off a 101-95 victory over the Utah Jazz. Since then, they've dropped two of their last three games.

Another LeBron James-led team fired its head coach midway through the season, and the move couldn't have gone any better. The 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers looked listless under David Blatt, and replacing him with Tyronn Lue was a key ingredient in their championship run.

In that case, James was part of a squad that was clearly playing below its potential. The Cavs weren't getting it done under Blatt.

The 2021-22 Lakers, on the other hand, might simply be a flawed, middling outfit, especially with Anthony Davis out injured.

Davis' sprained MCL would make things tough for Los Angeles under the best of circumstances. He hasn't stepped onto the court since a 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 17, and the Lakers are 7-10 over that span.

But Davis' absence has exacerbated an even bigger problem: The Russell Westbrook trade is shaping up to be a colossal mistake.

Through 47 games, Westbrook is averaging 18.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists. He's shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 29.6 from beyond the arc. The concerns about how the 33-year-old would fare as he slowly lost some of his exceptional physical tools have been well founded.

Vogel even benched Westbrook toward the end of a 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

One source summed up the Lakers' predicament to Shelburne by saying, "There is no light at the end of the tunnel."

Another source alluded to Westbrook's $44.2 million salary for this season and $47.1 million player option for 2022-23 and said making it work with him, James and Davis is "the only option."

One could justify the idea of firing Vogel by arguing it's the only real gambit general manager Rob Pelinka has left.

Talen Horton-Tucker is averaging 10.5 points but shooting 25.3 percent from the perimeter. If Los Angeles was hoping the 21-year-old would serve as an attractive trade asset for a big midseason deal, then that isn't coming to fruition.

The Westbrook trade appears to have been Pelinka's last chance to drastically alter the roster. Assuming Pelinka won't fire himself, his last bet might be the idea a new coach with new ideas can change the Lakers' trajectory.

Unless that coach can make Westbrook four years younger and Davis more durable, Los Angeles will still probably end up spinning its wheels in the middle of the West.