The Los Angeles Lakers have officially fired Frank Vogel after a disappointing season, opening up a head coaching position with the franchise. Vogel did win a championship in the Orlando bubble in his first season, but was unable to parlay that into future success. Even with some factors beyond his control, the head coach didn’t do himself any favors with his odd rotations and seemingly poor dynamics with the team’s stars.
The Lakers will now look elsewhere as they attempt to maximize LeBron James’ final years in the league. The King is eligible for a contract extension in August and will have a big say in the next coach for this team. Here’s a look at some of the top candidates for Los Angeles.
Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
The Jazz are unlikely to fire Snyder even if they fall short of expectations. Utah has had to pivot at times during this ascent under the coach, and it may seem like a breakup is coming. Snyder has coached at the college level as well and he’s a strong tactician everywhere he’s gone. After helping Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert develop, Snyder would theoretically be able to maximize the peripheral players around James and Anthony Davis. He’ll have to actively spurn Utah though if he does want to take this job.
Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers
Rivers is a solid coach, but he’s given a bit more credit than he has earned. Outside of his run with the Boston Celtics, Rivers has constantly fallen short of expectations despite having top talent. Those Celtics ties also make him an odd choice to join the Lakers. He’s definitely a candidate if things sour in Philly but the Lakers should be careful about bringing him on board.
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics front office
If there’s someone with Celtics ties the Lakers should hire ahead of Rivers, it’s Stevens. He’s been moved to a front office position with the franchise but the man probably still wants to coach a team. He’s viewed as one of the top X’s and O’s guy in the league and while his communication with players might be suspect, his acumen is not. If he’s willing to get back into coaching, the Lakers have a strong roster starting point for him.
John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats
Calipari is always in coaching rumors whenever Kentucky loses early in the tournament. There’s some more smoke here with his connection to Davis and his desire to return to the NBA at some point, but this is all leading to Kentucky giving him a raise. The Lakers might make a call but Calipari is unlikely to leave his situation in Lexington for a high-pressure gig in Los Angeles.
Phil Handy, Los Angeles Lakers assistant
The Lakers might consider Handy, who reportedly has a strong connection with James and Davis. The assistant has been with the team since the 2019 season and has experience on three championship teams. Handy is also a California native, although he grew up in the Bay Area. The Lakers like hiring “one of their own”, so Handy is definitely in contention if some of the team’s top options don’t work out.