LOS ANGELES — The commentary neither conveyed praise nor criticism.
With the Los Angeles Lakers hovering above or below .500 for the first quarter of the season amid overlapping injuries and learning curves with a new roster, Lakers governor Jeanie Buss was asked how the organization would evaluate coach Frank Vogel in his third season.
“Until we’re 100% healthy, I don’t think you can really make any judgment,” Buss told NBA.com at halftime of the Lakers-Celtics game on Tuesday at Staples Center. The Lakers won the game, 117-102, to move to 13-12 and are the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.
Before the game, Vogel conceded he has not had any conversations about the season and his future with the Lakers’ front office, which would include Buss, Rob Pelinka (vice president of basketball operations, general manager) and Kurt Rambis (director of basketball affairs).
Nonetheless, Vogel added he does not harbor any concerns about his job security and that he feels the front office supports him. Buss also noted that Vogel attended a Lakers’ season-ticket holder event on Monday night that also included Buss, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in attendance.
“We’re as connected as any organization can be,” Buss said. “I really don’t know what you’re looking for me to say. I would say until we’re 100 percent healthy, I won’t make any judgments about anything.”
The Lakers signed Vogel to a one-year extension last summer, which keeps him under contract through the 2022-23 season. Although the Lakers have praised Vogel for helping the team win the 2020 NBA title during a disrupted season due to the pandemic, Vogel has since inherited other challenges.
The Lakers entered Tuesday’s game against Boston with players missing a combined 95 games mostly related to injuries. Lakers star LeBron James has missed a combined 12 games because of injuries to his right ankle and abdominal muscle as well as a one-game suspension and being in the league’s health and safety protocols. Trevor Ariza (right ankle) and Kendrick Nunn (right knee) have also yet to play this season.
The Lakers have also experienced hiccups with integrating All-Star guard Russell Westbrook on a team that only has three returning players from last season’s roster.
“We’re focused on the job,” Vogel said. “We stay in the moment, focus on the task at hand and try to win the next game and try to get some momentum around our season.”
Therefore, Vogel downplayed whether he feels the criticism is unfair or justified.
“It’s not up to me,” Vogel said. “I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. Really just focused on the job.”
Following Monday’s practice, James also put more onus on the roster than the coaching staff.
“I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” James told reporters. “Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor. We’re a team and an organization that don’t mind some adversity, that don’t mind people saying things about us, obviously, because it comes with the territory.”
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