The Los Angeles Lakers will now be looking for a new head coach to replace Frank Vogel this summer.
Los Angeles finished the 2021-22 season with a 33-49 record. Immediately after said season came to a conclusion, multiple media reports indicated that Vogel was out of a job after three years. Now, the firing is official with Vogel headed out of Los Angeles just a few years removed from winning a title.
The backdrop here is continued drama between Los Angeles’ star players and the front office as well as another injury to big man Anthony Davis.
With LeBron still acting as somewhat of a power broker, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that he will have some say in a replacement.
It’s under this guise that we look at five top candidates to replace Frank Vogel as the Los Angeles Lakers’ next head coach.
Los Angeles Lakers promote David Fizdale
Back in November of 2017, LeBron James criticized the Memphis Grizzlies’ decision to fire head coach David Fizdale early in the season. James ended up using the term “fall guy” as a way to describe the move. Fast forward four years, and the respected coach is a top assistant under Frank Vogel in Southern California.
Obviously, King James has some sway when it comes to the Lakers’ decision-making process. That became clear when Fizdale replaced Jason Kidd as Los Angeles’ top assistant when the latter left to become the Dallas’ Mavericks head coach. As for Fizdale, he’s posted a 71-134 record as a head coach in stints with the Grizzlies and New York Knicks. Will that be enough to turn the Lakers’ brass off?
Los Angeles Lakers hire Kenny Atkinson
Considered one of the better developmental coaches in the NBA, it’s an open question whether Atkinson would be a great hire for a veteran-laden squad like the Lakers. What we do know is that the current Golden State Warriors’ assistant is widely respected around Association circles. He also had some success in turning a then-dormant Brooklyn Nets squad into a playoff team before surprisingly getting ousted following the 2019-20 season.
With a focus on defense and developing, an argument could be made that Atkinson makes sense in Los Angeles. He could bring in a top-end assistant to help hold down the fort as the Lakers toe the line between short-term contention and long-term relevance.
Los Angeles Lakers hire Steve Clifford
Clifford would be an ideal hire for the Lakers in that he’s better suited coaching an experienced roster. With north of 20 years experience on an NBA bench and eight as a head coach, it would be a smooth transition for the Southern California team.
Clifford, 60, led the Charlotte Hornets to two playoff appearances in five seasons before helping the Orlando Magic to the postseason in each of his first two years in Florida. He has respect around the league, which is needed when it comes to coaching big egos such as Mr. James and Anthony Davis.
Los Angeles Lakers hire Sam Cassell
It shouldn’t be too long before Sam Cassell nets a head-coaching job. He’s been an assistant for 13 years and starred on the court for another 15 seasons. That’s north of a quarter-century of experience in the NBA.
Most recently, Cassell was a finalist for the Los Angeles Clippers’ job before they settled on Tyronn Lue to head the ship. He’s currently an assistant under Doc Rivers in Philadelphia and is seen as a player-friendly coach. It almost makes too much sense.
Los Angeles Lakers steal Quin Snyder from the Utah Jazz
Having signed a contract extension with Utah back in 2019, there’s no telling whether Snyder would even entertain leaving Salt Lake City after eight extremely successful seasons.
What we do know is that Utah finds itself struggling heading into the playoffs. There’s also reports of a further rift between star players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Could this lead to wholesale changes for the Jazz under newish owner Ryan Smith if there’s an early playoff exit in Utah?
Linked to the Los Angeles Lakers opening, this would be a home run hire for general manager Rob Pelinka and Co. Snyder, 55, is on the verge of leading Utah to its sixth consecutive playoff appearance. The team has won 50-plus games three times over the past five seasons. To put this into perspective, Los Angeles has made the playoffs twice in the past nine years with one series win mixed in.