The Lakers were officially eliminated from the play-in tournament Tuesday night in what was the proper ending to one of the most disappointing seasons in NBA history—a 121–110 loss to the Suns. Coach Frank Vogel’s job security has been a major topic of conversation throughout the season and with the end of the year in sight, he addressed what it was like to coach while hearing whispers that his job was in jeopardy.
“It’s not easy to shut it out,” Vogel told The Athletic. “It’s not fun to have those reports hanging over your head or seeing it everywhere you look, especially so early in the season [and] after what we’ve been able to accomplish here. But to me, that pressure of expectation has been here since the day I signed on.”
When asked about what’s next for him, he said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
The Lakers (31–48) were expected to contend for an NBA title this year with the likes of future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard on their roster. But instead, they’re one of the worst teams in the association. Key injuries to James and Davis have been used to explain the team’s massive struggles, but it’s worth noting Los Angeles is just 11–10 when James, Davis and Westbrook are on the floor together. Even healthy, this squad is barely .500.
“Every game, you’re fighting against the current of healthier teams or teams that have more continuity,” he told The Athletic. “Or teams that are just better. Meaning your margin for error is very slim.”
Davis has missed 39 games this year and James has missed 23. Westbrook has been able to stay healthy for the team, but his on-the-court struggles may have been the most magnified issue on this squad.
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He’s averaging 18.5 points per game, his lowest mark since his second year in the NBA in 2010, while shooting 44% from the field and 30% from three-point range. He’s also fifth in turnovers per game at 3.8.
“We did not win at a high rate with Russ and another star and the rest of our role players,” Vogel said. “Whether it was Russ and AD with Bron out or Russ and Bron with AD out, we just haven’t won in those situations.”
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