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Lakers coach Frank Vogel hears outside noises about his job security: ‘It’s not easy to rule him out’


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The Los Angeles Lakers (31-48) were officially eliminated from the NBA playoffs on Tuesday after a 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Despite championship aspirations and a roster that includes several potential future Hall of Famers, the loss meant the team failed to even qualify for the Qualifying Tournament with three games remaining in the regular season.

Head coach Frank Vogel overheard conversations about his job security throughout the Lakers’ disappointing season, and as it neared its end, he opened up about what it was like to hear outside noise that his job was in danger.

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Los Angeles, California April 3, 2022 – Lakers head coach Frank Vogel argues with a referee during a game with the Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“It’s not easy to rule him out,” Vogel told The Athletic. “It’s no fun having these reports hanging over your head or seeing them everywhere you look, especially so early in the season. [and] after what we have been able to accomplish here. But for me, this pressure of expectation has been there since the day I signed.”

Health was a major issue this season for Los Angeles, which rarely had Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and LeBron James on the floor at the same time. However, the Lakers went 11-10 in games when those three players were on the floor together and the team wasn’t exactly dominant.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel hears outside noises about his job security: ‘It’s not easy to rule him out’

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, sits on the bech next to forward Anthony Davis as head coach Frank Vogel stands by during the second half of a basketball game of the NBA against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, April 3, 2022 in Los Angeles.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

“Every game you’re fighting against the undercurrent of healthier teams or teams that have more continuity,” Vogel said. “Or teams that are just better. That means your margin for error is very slim.”

Westbrook, who has managed to stay healthy, is having one of the worst seasons of his NBA career after the Lakers acquired him from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma.

Westbrook is averaging just 18.5 points per game, the lowest total for him since his second season in the league. He also averages just 7.1 assists per game.

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Vogel said Westbrook was struggling without James and Davis. This season, James has played 56 games for Los Angeles and Davis has only played 40 games.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel hears outside noises about his job security: ‘It’s not easy to rule him out’

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) talks to referee Derrick Collins (11) during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Phoenix . The Suns won 121-110.
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

“We didn’t win at a high pace with Russ and another star and the rest of our cast,” Vogel told the outlet. “Whether it’s Russ and AD without Bron or Russ and Bron without AD, we just haven’t won in those situations.”

Vogel led the Lakers to an NBA championship against the Miami Heat in 2020. Now his job security looks low.

“I can say it’s not due to a lack of effort,” the coach said after Tuesday’s loss. “We all worked. Our guys fought until the end. We showed integrity in the process. We just missed out on a disjointed season.”

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It was the second time James had missed the playoffs since joining the Lakers in 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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