The Los Angeles Lakers‘ bumpy start has lit a fire of criticism directed at head coach Frank Vogel’s job status. Star forward LeBron James has quickly come to his coach’s defense to alleviate some of the pressure. Team owner Jeanie Buss may have just clarified the situation.
LeBron James defends Frank Vogel against criticism
The Lakers entered the 2021-22 campaign well aware of the massive adjustment period ahead for their revamped roster.
However, it’s featured the team hovering around the .500 mark through the several weeks, leading to criticism toward Vogel gathering steam. LeBron James has chimed in the situation, recently voicing his support for his head coach while placing some of the blame on the players for not performing well enough.
“I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” James said after practice on Monday via Dave Mcmenamin of ESPN. “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.”
The Lakers have struggled to play with consistency, while injuries have heavily impacted the roster. Despite that, the outside criticism directed at Vogel has only grown louder. It’s led team owner Jeanie Buss to finally provide some much-needed clarity.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss douses the flames on coach Frank Vogel’s job status
The Lakers’ rocky start has shifted the chatter toward Vogel’s long-term future.
With James strongly backing his head coach, team president and part-owner, Jeanie Buss further cooled the heat by voicing on Tuesday night that she will wait to judge Vogel until the team is entirely healthy.
“We’re as connected as any organization can be,” Buss said to NBA.com‘s Mark Medina. “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.”
Through the first 23 games, the Lakers haven’t played with their entire roster due to injuries. James missed has 12 games because of an assortment of ailments, while key role players in Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn have yet to play a regular-season game.
Ariza recently returned to practice to participate in scrimmages nearly two months after undergoing ankle surgery before the season opener. Meanwhile, the team is expecting Nunn to return early in 2022 from a bone bruise to his right knee. Los Angeles won’t be at full strength until January, but that should be enough time for the team to find its identity.
Much of which depends on James staying on the floor, as he’s the key piece to the puzzle that allows the other talent around him to play in their proper roles. Russel Westbrook can find more comfort as the third scorer, while the 17-time All-Star’s presence will enable Vogel to play more structured bench unit and lineup combinations.
More than anything else, Buss’ comments outline that Vogel isn’t on the hot seat just yet.
Lakers are starting to show signs of progress
The only way the outside noise will cease to exist lies solely with winning games.
The first 25 games have been bumpy, but Los Angeles can begin to quiet the criticism by staying in the win column. Outside of the disappointing loss to the LA Clippers, the Lakers have won three out of their previous four contests.
Some bright spots are developing, led by Westbrook’s improved play. Over the last 10 games, the former league MVP is averaging 21.9 points and 9.2 assists while shooting 48.8% from the floor and 35.7% from 3-point range. That stretch features seven 20-point outings, with two triple-doubles and five games registering double-digit assists.
Meanwhile, James doesn’t appear to be hampered by injuries as he’s tallied at least 30 points in four out of his last five contests. A long road remains ahead, but these promising developments could be pivotal in turning the Lakers’ season around.