Frank Vogel's Introductory Press Conference Transcript
May 23, 2016
General Manager Rob Hennigan
Good afternoon everybody… It is good to see everyone. I wanted to start with a few brief statements to say how excited we are for our organization and team today to be able to welcome Frank as our new head coach. When we started this process in matter of days ago, it was important for us to find the right coach for the roster, and certainly for the organization. We feel very, very fortunate and lucky that a man of Frank’s character and coaching caliber happened to be available as we were looking for a new head coach. We are excited about Frank, we feel that he fits our team to a ‘T.’ We feel the things that he is about as a human being fit our organization. And we really feel good about everything Frank will be able to bring to this community and organization. Frank’s track record speaks for itself, as far as we are concerned. He is someone who has built a team of defense, first and foremost. He has shown over the years that he is someone that is able to mold and cultivate players, two very important things to us as we started this search. We could not be more excited as I said. And with that I would like to welcome the new head coach of the Orlando Magic – Frank Vogel.
Head Coach Frank Vogel
Thanks, Rob. Thank you to the DeVos family, Alex Martins and Rob Hennigan for this great opportunity to be the head coach of the Orlando Magic. This team and organization has a great reputation. I have been an admirer and have great respect for what they have accomplished in the past and what they represent as a franchise. As the process played out, it became very clear to me early that this is the perfect place for me to continue my basketball journey. As I look at the overall situation, it also became clear that it is the right landing spot for my family. We are very excited to be here. The city of Orlando has so much to offer. My family and I are very much looking forward to calling ourselves Floridians. I want to commend Rob for putting together a heck of a roster. You have a lot of talent at a high character. That was one of the biggest attractions to this job for me, and wanting to take this job with the young core that he has put together. I think it is a core that will also be attractive to prospective free agents thinking about coming to play for our team. The future is bright for this group. In my mind this team is ready, ready to take the next step. We’ve got a great young core. We have the cap flexibly to add a key veteran or two … or three. And I think our fans should be really excited and have real reason to believe that we are at the beginning of what should be a great era in Magic basketball. We are going to play a similar type of play that we did at Indiana. We will have a defensive identity, which worked for us, but we will also play a style offensively where we adapt to the way today’s NBA game is played on the offensive end. We are going to play with pace. We are going to take advantage of the athleticism that we have on this roster, run the floor. We are also going to space the way that a lot of these teams are playing in today’s NBA. We are going to win. And we are going to have fun winning. I am excited about this group.
Can you get into specifics of players, who you like moving forward?
Frank: I like all of them. They’re my guys now. I like Evan Fournier, in the back of the room there. Victor [Oladipo], who was in the building, working out when I got here today. I joked with Victor that we never really spent a whole lot of time together, maybe it is the Indiana connection or whatever, but we would always kind of make eye contact during games. I feel like I have known him for 20 years. We have good chemistry. I believe in Elfrid [Payton]. I believe in playing with defensive length, which he brings to the table. So establishing our defensive identity, he will be a part of. Mario is a guy I was a big fan of at the draft last year. He wasn’t available when we chose, but he is a guy that I am excited about what he can become. I love his confidence. I love his athleticism, his ability to shoot the ball. He fits the way we want to play. Vooch [Nikola Vucevic] is a monster inside. He kills us every time that he played. You can go on and on, down the roster, there is a lot to be excited about with this group. I am excited to get started.
How might your presence here help in the acquisition of free agents? Have you talked to Rob about this? With the limited information you have about Orlando, what do you think will be the lure to get guys to player here?
Frank: The biggest thing that free agents want to hear is ‘are they going to win?’ I believe they are going to win here. We’ve had some success at Indiana, making over a team at a similar point in their development that this team is at right now. We just need one or two veterans to come in, to help us get over the hump. But the number one thing that a free agent wants to hear is ‘are they going to win?’ and the pieces are in place here. We have had regular season success at Indiana, and we have had postseason success in Indiana, with the young core that we have here, I believe that we can take the big step with the right free agents.
How do you your principles in terms versatility and flexibility adjust to the style of play depending on the roster?
Frank: Every style is dictated by the personnel you have on your roster. We had some teams that were built around size and strength, so you have to play to that strength, play to that style of play. We did pick it up, from a play standpoint, dramatically this past season because we changed our personnel a little bit. There was more a desire to do so. I have a great desire to play up and down, great desire. I feel like we have the athleticism and youth to achieve that, right away. As these guys grow they will get better year after year, but it is predicated on your personnel.
Everybody knows that this is a star-driven league; do you think that there are guys on this roster that can develop into superstars? And do you see a potential Paul George on this roster?
Frank: I do think there are guys that have the ability to take that next step, there are a few different ones. It is not like we’re coming into this situation and you got that one guy, and then we have to say that is the guy that is going to carry us. Any of these guys that I mentioned earlier have the ability to explode, take the big jump. It will be my job to make sure that I am inspiring them, giving them discipline on the basketball court and showing them the way.
You built your reputation on defense; do you see the pieces in place to build a similar defense here?
Frank: Well, you can always add pieces. But I do feel like we have good athleticism, mobility and strength with this roster. I think length is a big factor in being a great defensive team, and we do have that. We have size at the rim. Obliviously, we are going to look at some other pieces, but I do feel like we have the pieces in place right now to be at least a very good defense.
There were quite a few vacancies right now around the league, you touched on this being the right landing spot for you and your family right now, but can you give us some detail as to why this was really a selling point, why you wanted to be here?
Frank: How long do you have? Everything about this job was appealing to me, starting with the ownership. I’ve got a lot of coaching friends in the business, in basketball and in other sports, that really when you talk about choosing jobs, you want to make sure that you have a strong ownership group and the reputation of the DeVos family is as good as it goods. So it starts there. I think after that you have to look at the interpersonal communications and relationships you’re going to have with your front office, the people you’re going to work with. And Rob and I, from the minute we picked up the phone with each other, I felt like we had a great connection. We have similar backgrounds; we both played Division III, we both lived in Boston around the same time. And we have similar leadership styles. We rely on the group to give great input. We know we don’t know it all. We make group decisions, and we study and we work. And we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We have sort of a ‘have fun but work our butts off’ type of mindset. From the ownership down to the front office, things looked good. The roster, as we talked about before was very, very attractive to me. Very attractive to me. I really see a lot of similarities to this team that I saw in the team we took over in Indiana with Lance Stephenson, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert. You know, still trying to find our way to get over that hump and became a monster in the East and I see that similarity there. I wanted to make sure my family was comfortable. My wife and I grew up in the Northeast but my daughters are sort of small-town girls, from the Midwest. And the similar market size here in Orlando, than what we had in Indiana, was very attractive to us as well. The weather, state taxes, Disney World. Those were probably at the bottom of the list but all still factors. You basically can check off every box, with the pros and cons you’re weighing, with this job versus other teams and I just think this is a great, great fit for me.
When you took over in Indiana your success came quite quickly, how quickly do you expect success to happen right here in Orlando?
Frank: If we don’t get a ring then it’s a failure. That’s the only way to look at this. Again, we don’t take ourselves too seriously here. We’re gonna win. It’s that simple. We’re going to go out, we’re going to work our tails off, we’re going to instill discipline, we’re going to inspire our guys. We’re going to develop our young players, we’re going to develop our veteran players into being better veterans and we’re going to win games. You know, obviously this group hasn’t been to the playoffs so, if you want to look for a bar of where we’re going to set the standard on our goals, we’re going to get into the playoffs this year. We’re going to start there, but more importantly to me, we’ve got to build something that we know can win in the playoffs. It’s not just about getting there, it’s about building the level of offensive sharing and passing, building the defensive toughness where you’re going to defend and rebound and it’s going to be hard to score against our team. So, that when you get into the playoffs you have a reasonable expectation that you’re going to succeed in the playoffs.
This is actually for Rob. Your relationship with Coach Vogel and having to approach player personnel, the roster, will that be different than the relationship you had with Coach Skiles and Coach Vaughn before that?
Rob: No, it’ll be the same, Joe. It will always be mutuality. Making sure we get in there and we collaborate and we talk about things as a group. We really do believe in the wisdom of multiple viewpoints and opinions. So, that’s one of the things that Frank and I talked about at length, was just how to arrive at decisions and just making sure that we’re focusing all our energy on trying to make the best decision together. So, yeah, it’ll stay the same as it’s always been.
It seems like in the past you’ve really enjoyed grooming young players and helping them grow into superstars. Is that true and do you look forward to that here?
Frank: Well, any teacher or coach derives his greatest pleasure in their profession or their process when they see their pupil succeed, so I would say I definitely enjoy that part of the game. And I do enjoy the preparation and strategy, the adjustments, the chess match and all that stuff. But, you know, watching your guys have success, when they work really hard for it, connecting with guys, inspiring guys, that’s the most rewarding part of any teacher or coach’s journey.
As quickly as this process went, with the conversation on Sunday, the conversation between the two of you on Monday, was there enough time to ensure that the two of you were philosophically aligned and temperamentally aligned?
Frank: I believe so. You know, it was one of those things that just my confidence level picked up speed as the process went along, comfortable in the first 15 minutes. Then once we’re an hour into it, really excited. Then once we got two hours into it, feeling like this is the spot for me. It was that quick and accelerated. So, we did talk about everything you can talk about in terms of what our relationship is going to look like, the direction of team, the style of play, how we execute practices, all those types of things.
Rob: I agree with everything Frank just said.
Talk about what the timetable will be now to finalize this coaching staff. What are you looking for in your staff? What type of voices do you want? And between you two Division III guys, who would win a game of one-on-one?
Frank: He’s nine years younger than me. Nine years ago I would’ve kicked his butt. I wouldn’t today. But I wouldn’t finish the game; I’d pull a calf muscle or something. The coaching staff is something that is going to take some time to put together. I don’t expect to have a big staff. But we’re going to sit together, discuss all the names that I’m interested in, gather some of his names, and like everything we’re going to do going forward, it will be a group effort, and we’ll choose the people that put us in the best position to have success. But one the thing I would say is that the coaching staff, to me is, the chemistry of your staff is just as important as the chemistry of your team. So, as we add guys, we will add the next two or three guys to complement that first selection.
When you were an assistant with the Celtics and Rob was playing Division III basketball at Emerson were you guys aware of each other at all back then?
Rob: I was aware of Frank because he was working for the Celtics. I’m sure he wasn’t aware of me.
Also, Rob, was there any sense of urgency because other teams were looking for coaches and obviously Coach Vogel was in the mix?
Rob: There certainly was a sense of urgency just because of the way things shook out and obviously there were other vacancies. So, we knew we had to move quickly and we did move quickly, but Frank’s name obviously was available and we got to know Frank and it became very obvious for us that we had reason to move as quickly as we did.
Veteran coaches have been through these types of situation before when one organization lets them go for various reasons and then they become the favorite for a new organization. Going through this process for the first time, in your young coaching career, and Larry Bird kind of admitted that you were campaigning to keep your job, can you just share what this roller coaster has been like for you?
Frank: It’s been a really crazy time, to be honest with you. Probably the craziest two weeks of my life. Just from the emotions of being let go by the Pacers to just figuring out what our next step was. The phone was ringing, so that was a good thing. It was a good kind of chaos. There was interest. I enjoyed meeting with some of the other teams that I met with. Ultimately, finding this situation here, with everything aligning to the ways or the things that I was looking for, for my family, for my career, that part made it a joyful time, as opposed to a stressful time, knowing that the opportunity to have a job like this as one of the options, and let’s go for that one more than the rest, and then getting it, was a very exciting thing for me. We’re excited to be down here.
You said you liked the roster, and you mentioned some of the guys by name. There’s a lot of cap space out there, what exactly do you think you need?
Frank: Well, we need some tough guys. Some tough guys that our leaders, and I think bringing in a guy that has a presence about him that the younger players will respect, both with his presence, his voice, his approach. But also the ability to kick some tail on the court, to deliver on the court, that’s the best way to lead. So, I think we’ll be looking for that, a guy that has that experience, that winning experience. But can lead in the locker room but with his play as well.
Have you had any conversations with Coach Skiles or do you anticipate having a conversation with him about what his concerns were so that you can address or resolve those going forward?
Frank: I have not talked to him. I don’t plan on talking to him. I believe every situation is different. I’ve seen a number of relationships not work out that are completely different than what my relationship would be. I like to make my own judgements on people and situations and I’ve done that in conversations that we’ve talked about with all the people in this organization I feel good about what it looks like and what it’s going to be like for us here, and I don’t intend to have any further conversations with coach.
What have the conversations been like with your current players here, I know everybody’s kind of scattered all over the place, and what’s been your single message and also when do you plan to get everybody on board? What’s that first step with everybody?
Frank: Well it’s summer, it’s tough because everybody’s scattered. I do want to get in front of all of our guys face-to-face as quickly as possible. Hopefully most of those meetings can happen here in Orlando, but if I have to travel to see someone, we’ll travel to see someone. But the main message is ‘we’re going to win.’ We’ve got the formula, we have the ability, we’re ready from the standpoint of our growing pains being behind us. We’re going to add a key couple of free agents and this is going to happen. Be excited about what we’re about to embark on.
Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins
Alex: It was a quick timetable. A lot of it was driven by the fact that Frank [Vogel] was available and in high demand. Although, I felt Rob and we were thorough about the process, we did move expeditiously.
How quickly did he come on your radar?
Alex: Once we quickly got over the realism of Scott [Skiles] departing, we immediately had Frank on our list. We were aware of the fact that he had been interviewing already. We were aware of the fact that he potentially had an offer from another team already. And so, we knew that we had to move very, very quickly. We moved quickly over the weekend, Rob spent, as he said, a considerable about of time with him on the telephone first. And then we moved quickly as we were in Grand Rapids for our quarterly meeting with the family, we quickly got Frank to Grand Rapids on Monday.
Even though the wins have not been there, what does that say about the organization that you can get a coach of his caliber?
Alex: Well, first and foremost, and Frank said it himself, we do have a reputation of winning. Over the years, this organization has won quite significantly, one of the few teams that have been able to go to two separate NBA Finals. We are still amongst the East leaders in playoff appearances over the last 20 years. I think Frank saw through the fact that we have been rebuilding. It takes some time to do that, but he also recognizes that we’ve got quite a bit of talent on the roster that he’s excited about coaching. He feels he can get us back to the playoffs, as he said, quickly.
What are your thoughts when he says that we are going to go to the playoffs this year?
Alex: We believe him. It is exactly what we feel. We feel like we were on that path before. To add his experience of having been to the playoffs, five of the last six years, having been to the Eastern Conference Finals twice in the last six years – it is one of those pieces that we talked about, in addition to veteran players, that is necessary to tell our young guys who have never been there, how to get there. And to truly transition them from not having been to the playoffs to regularly being in the playoffs, that level of experience for somebody who hasn’t been there - you can only say it, but for someone who has been there, you can prove it and you can talk in detail about how we’re going to get there. We believe Frank is going to be able to do that right away.
Is there any thought amongst the organization that Scott leaving was a blessing in disguise?
Alex: No departure is fun. Obviously it is part of our business, but I am a firm believer that when one door closes a better one can open. We believe that could be the case here. As the door closed on Scott’s short tenure here, the door opened for us to be able to attract a coach of Frank’s caliber and of his success. We believe it opens a door that could be a lot more successful.
The response from the fans has been overwhelmingly positive, since you have had such a long tenure with the team – is the excitement level towards this coach the highest you have ever seen?
Alex: You know, as I look back on all of our coaching hires, the closest I will equate it to is when we hired Stan Van Gundy. But I also believe that at that point in time, Frank comes in with a greater track record as it relates to having been to the Eastern Conference Finals twice and has been to the playoffs five of the last six years; the only year being the year that Paul George was unavailable because of his broken leg. Of course, they are going to be excited, they see the track record. In that regard, I would agree with you, I would say ‘yes,’ the fans seem to be excited for this Magic coach as they have ever been.
Have you spoken to players at this point to get a sense of how they are feeling?
Alex: I have spoken to a few of them, particularly the guys who are here today. They are very excited about it. They, like the fans, recognize that Frank’s been there. He’s been successful. He’s gotten to the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s where they want to go. So, it excites them to have that kind of leader.