NBA Rumor: Frank Vogel Hot Seat?

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There was much speculation in coaching circles over whether Pelinka, who is known to value flexibility and leverage in all dealings, would indeed extend Vogel’s contract. But the broadly held consensus was that no one could coach a LeBron-led team as a lame duck. The chatter wasn’t exactly dampened by the addition to L.A.’s staff of David Fizdale, who had developed a close relationship in Miami with James, nor by the arrival of accomplished veterans, fading superstars and the egos that accompany them.

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Magic president Jeff Weltman inherited an expensive and bad roster, limiting his options to shape it. He also inherited coach Frank Vogel, and maybe there’s something Weltman will do about that. Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter: “Orlando’s ongoing malaise, especially after the promise of an unexpected 8-4 start, make it a widely held assumption in coaching circles that Vogel will be dismissed after the franchise’s sixth successive season out of the playoffs.”

Frank Vogel on the hot seat?

And now Vogel finds himself in a predicament coaches dread: on the hot seat, unsure if his team’s front office will retain him for next season. Vogel is in a precarious spot. Between Vogel’s first and second seasons, the Magic fired Rob Hennigan as the team’s general manager, dismissed many other key figures within the basketball operations department and hired Jeff Weltman as the president of basketball operations and John Hammond as the general manager.

As they have remained quiet, gossip has swirled for months within NBA circles about Vogel’s future. The speculation accelerated after the Magic followed a superb 8-4 start with an injury-fueled nine-game losing streak. The conjecture has always centered around an assumption that Weltman will want to pick his own coach rather than retain the coach he inherited. Then, with a new coach in place, Weltman ostensibly would undertake an incremental rebuild and reboot the failed effort that began under Hennigan.

Vogel has the respect of his players but he can also play hardball. He is the perfect guy when it comes to being a face of the franchise, appearing at golf outings, meeting with season-ticket holders, and in accommodating various requests around the building. But basketball is business. The players and coaches know that. Vogel is the fourth-longest tenured head coach in The Association (six seasons) behind Gregg Popovich (20), Rick Carlisle and Erik Spoelstra (eight). There’s something to be said for continuity, especially in a league when leadership has a short leash on its coaches.

Vogel’s job has been said to be in jeopardy in past years. He would seem a perfect fit if front-runner Kurt Rambis agrees to slide over as the offensive coordinator of the triangle. According to sources, Knicks owner James Dolan felt Vogel outcoached Mike Woodson during the Knicks’ seminal six-game playoff defeat to the Pacers in 2013. The Knicks carried a 54-28 record into the second-round series before being upset – the pivotal moment coming when Carmelo Anthony was blocked at the rim by Roy Hibbert late in the fourth quarter of Game 6.

What happens next, however, could be more destruction. The same wrecking ball that demolished Roy Hibbert’s time in Indianapolis last offseason could be aimed next for coach Frank Vogel. As Bird walked out of Air Canada Centre late Sunday night following the Pacers’ season-ending loss to the Toronto Raptors, I asked him if Vogel – widely believed to be in the final year of his contract – will be back next season. “Come on, man,” Bird told me, before walking off. “The game just ended.”
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October 25, 2021 | 7:05 pm EDT Update