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Frank Vogel on his status as Lakers coach: ‘We’ll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow’

Lakers coach Frank Vogel watches from the sideline during the first half of the team's 146-141 overtime win.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel watches from the sideline during the team’s 146-141 overtime win against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night in the season finale.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
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The moment at which the Lakers defeated Denver 146-141 in overtime Sunday night, ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski sent a tweet saying Lakers coach Frank Vogel would be fired by the team and informed of the decision as soon as Monday.

Seventeen minutes later, Vogel was in front of the media, forced to answer questions about the report. Asked directly whether he had spoken with anyone in the Lakers’ front office about his future, Vogel was clear that this was news to him.

“My reaction is, I haven’t been told s— and I’m going to enjoy tonight’s game and celebrate what these young guys did in terms of scratching and clawing and getting back into this game and getting a W. We’ll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow,” he said.

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On the same day that LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, GM Rob Pelinka and others address the media, the Lakers fire coach Frank Vogel. Read more here.

April 11, 2022

Vogel did say he was informed about the tweet before meeting with the media, and he did spend significant time in the hallway outside the Lakers’ locker room meeting with a team communications official.

Through a Lakers spokesperson, the team declined to confirm the report.

Earlier in the night, the Lakers showcased some of the fight that Vogel has praised his team for throughout the season, a 49-loss team already eliminated from postseason contention coming back from nine points down with 62 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and eventually win.

“I’ve got nothing bad to say about him,” Lakers guard Malik Monk said.

LeBron James talks about Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel, looking back on the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers season as the team misses out on playoffs.

Monk had just scored a career-best 41 points, and Austin Reaves had 31 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double. Neither player had heard about the report before being asked about it after the game.

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Vogel’s job status had been discussed throughout the season, the Lakers failing to make the playoffs despite the high-profile acquisition of Russell Westbrook, the signings of Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony, and bringing back stars such as LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“He kept his cool the whole time. Didn’t talk about no problems like that. Didn’t talk about anything like that, man. He came in and worked and always gave us a great game plan,” Monk said. “… He was always about us. It was never really about him. And I praise him for that, man. I know that was pretty hard on him, but he never talked about it. He never changed his demeanor. He stayed cool, and yeah man, kudos to Frank.”

Injuries and poor fits doomed the season, the Lakers (33-49) never moving more than three games above .500 before they had to deal with significant injuries to Davis and James.

Asked about Vogel before the game, Davis and Anthony said fault needed to be evenly shared throughout the roster and organization.

“I thought he did what he had to do. I mean, he was trying to figure it out just like everybody else was figuring it out with what he had on a nightly basis,” Anthony said. “I mean, we didn’t know. I’m sure he didn’t know what he was going to have on a nightly basis. And then some of those things weren’t things that we couldn’t control. Not knowing lineups, trying to figure out different lineups, trying to figure out rotations, trying to figure out how who goes with what, having different guys in and out of lineups — those are things that Frank had to deal with all season long. I don’t know what Frank is thinking. I don’t know what he was thinking. I don’t know how he’s thinking right now. But if I just have to give my perspective, or my two cents, I’ll just say it never came together for him. It never clicked.

Once upon a time the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook bet was a sign of hope. Then the reality of an aging roster, and injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, set in.

April 8, 2022

“Even at times when we started to feel good about ourselves and about our play and how we was playing, something happened and it took us backwards again. Had to hit the reset button a couple of times. It was a tough situation for him. It was a very tough, tough situation for him.”

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The Lakers would lose eight games in a row down the stretch of the season, getting knocked out of contention for the play-in tournament, before winning their final two games. Sunday’s win was one of the few feel-good moments of the season.

But like so much this season, the feeling only existed for a brief moment before confusion and chaos reigned again.

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