Even with the postseason heating up, the LA Lakers are never out of the headlines. Making a splash in today’s daily dose of Laker updates is Jeanie Buss’ willingness to let LeBron James finish his contract wearing purple and gold.
The LA Lakers’ coaching search could lead them inside their franchise if they are just open to it. Phil Handy, the team’s head of player development, is a familiar voice that had the respect of last year’s roster, including James.
The former head coach is getting the full blast of the blame for Russell Westbrook’s failures this season. Despite Westbrook’s obvious fit issues, the Lakers, with James’ approval, still acquired him. After a disastrous campaign, Vogel was axed by the front office.
Jeanie Buss to keep LeBron James on the roster even if he refuses to sign extension in August
At the core of the LA Lakers’ biggest concerns next season will be LeBron James’ contract status. The four-time NBA champion is eligible to sign a two-year extension worth $97 million. However, reports have already surfaced that the four-time MVP will opt to play out his contract and keep his options open.
James' biggest goals in the next few years will be to cement his legacy by winning more titles and ultimately playing with his son, Bronny James. The LA Lakers’ roster construction and lack of draft capital could prevent him from achieving both those goals while he is still wearing purple and gold.
Jeanie Buss knows all of these, but she’s in no hurry to trade “King James” even if he turns 38 next year. The G.O.A.T candidate's level of play is still quite elite and he could still push the LA Lakers into playoff contention. Winning the title, however, is another matter altogether.
Phil Handy ready to take the LA Lakers’ head coaching job
Rob Pelinka and the front office recently hired legendary former LA Lakers head coach Phil Jackson as a consultant in the team’s coaching search. The Lakers’ front office promised the search would be extensive and Jackson's advice would be invaluable.
They could reportedly look no further than someone in their own ranks. Phil Handy, the LA Lakers’ head of player development, is making his intentions known to take Frank Vogel’s place.
One of the most important traits that Pelinka is looking for in the next head coach is someone with a voice and Handy certainly checks that box. He’s been known to go after and cuss at James and Anthony Davis when they play sub-par basketball.
When Vogel was in the hot seat sometime in January, it was reported that Handy would have taken over and not Dave Fizdale. The Lakers apparently have had an eye on him already, but are going through a rigorous and thorough head-coaching search as promised.
LA Lakers pins the blame on Frank Vogel for Russell Westbrook’s failure
The blame game is in full blast in the Lakers’ camp if reports are true. Sam Amick of The Athletic had this to say on the issue:
“There was a strong sense that it was on Vogel to make the Westbrook experiment work, and the fact that it didn’t lead to questions about whether Westbrook had been put in a position to succeed.”
Frank Vogel was a champion coach who made his mark on defense. In Westbrook, he had a player who’s disengaged without the ball and rarely hustles to help his team on defense.
In the Lakers’ first few games, Vogel gave the reins of the offense to the triple-double king. But Westbrook’s erratic plays and poor decision-making halted the experiment. LA’s lack of consistency and rhythm for most of the season was partly because of Westbrook’s bone-headed decisions.
It seems like Vogel was primed to fail from the start of the season and is now taking the brunt of the blame.