The Lakers are moving fast to try to fill their head-coaching vacancy, interviewing former Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel on Thursday, according to people not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
In an event-filled Wednesday during which negotiations between the Lakers and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue reached an impasse, the Lakers quickly targeted Vogel as a candidate, and he had a meeting at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.
After missing the playoffs for the last six consecutive seasons, the Lakers are hoping to land a coach — their fifth in the last eight seasons — who can take the franchise back to the postseason.
Vogel, 45, had his best moments as coach of the Pacers for five-plus seasons, leading them to the playoffs five out of the six seasons he was there, including a postseason berth when he took over as the interim coach in 2011.
If past interviews with candidates are an indicator, Vogel probably met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, general manager Rob Pelinka, co-owners Joey Buss (who runs the Lakers’ G League South Bay Lakers team) and Jesse Buss (the Lakers’ assistant general manager and director of scouting), chief operating officer Tim Harris, director of special projects Linda Rambis and senior advisor Kurt Rambis.
Vogel’s teams are known for their strong play on defense, having ranked in the top five in the league during his tenure with the Pacers.
Under Vogel’s guidance, Indiana advanced to the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and 2014 before losing to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat.
He has worked for the Lakers before as an advance scout from 2005-06. Vogel had been a candidate to be the associate head coach on Lue’s staff.
The New Jersey native, who transferred to Kentucky after starting for two seasons at Division III Juanita College, has a record of 304-291 in seven-plus seasons as an NBA coach.
Vogel’s coaching career began in 2001 when he joined the Boston Celtics’ staff as an assistant under coach Jim O’Brien. After three seasons with the Celtics, Vogel followed O’Brien to the Philadelphia 76ers for one season and then to the Pacers in 2007.
The Lakers’ coaching position has been open since April 12, when the Lakers and Luke Walton mutually agreed to part ways. Walton was hired as coach of the Sacramento Kings a few days later.
Other candidates the Lakers are considering include former Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson and former Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins. The team also will continue to consider Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard and former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd, both of whom were interviewed in April.
Lue and former New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams were the front-runners for the job. After two rounds of interviews in late April, neither was offered a contract. Williams agreed to become coach of the Phoenix Suns on May 3.
The Lakers opened negotiations with Lue on Friday. The Lakers and the former Cavaliers coach, who went to three consecutive NBA Finals with James and brought Cleveland its first pro sports championship in 50 years in 2016, reached an impasse Wednesday over the the contract offer, which was three years and $18 million.