The Los Angeles Lakers playoff hopes might officially die on Tuesday night.
Currently sitting 11th in the Western Conference and 2.0 games behind the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers’ chance at snatching the final Play-In Tournament spot will disappear with a loss AND a Spurs win. LA is set to face off against the 62-win Phoenix Suns without LeBron James, and the Spurs will battle the Nuggets in Denver.
Still, whether or not their season officially boils over tonight, I think it’s fair to say this team isn’t going anywhere great. At only 31 wins with a 16-32 record against West opponents, the Lakers season has seemed all but done for a while now. And, with that being the case, the rumors have already started to swirl about some drastic changes.
For example, the Lakers are expected to ditch head coach Frank Vogel this offseason, per Bleacher Reports’ Jake Fischer. Several big-name replacements have also already been tied to the job.
“Now, as the finish line for this tumultuous 2021-22 campaign mercifully arrives, the Lakers are still expected to part ways with embattled play-caller Frank Vogel, sources told B/R, and the anticipated vacancy on Los Angeles’ bench has produced no shortage of potential candidates linked to fill the position.”
Fischer goes on to mention a report from long-time NBA Insider Marc Stein that pointed toward Utah Jazz head coach Quinn Snyder as a name to watch. He backs up that report and states Snyder “may be inclined to step away from the Jazz following this season, especially as Utah has taken its own tumble down the Western Conference standings.”
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers is another name Fischer had heard mentioned by “league personnel.” In fact, Rivers’ name has also come up in conversations about Utah’s potential vacancy.
One of the craziest names presented is former-Laker player and current senior adviser Kurt Rambis. However, Fischer does go on to say that Rambis is viewed as an “integral figure in the front office and unlikely to resume a coaching role”
Ok, so why should we even care about this potential West Coast coaching shuffle? Well, I would say it’s less about the idea of a coaching shuffle and more about what it means for those organizations involved in the shuffle. When either a team fires a head coach or is stuck searching for a replacement, we all know that can lead to a domino effect upstairs. Not only could those front offices become a little more prone to dramatic roster moves (perhaps to better align their roster with that new coach), but it could simply signal a full-blown organizational re-invention.
I say that with the Utah Jazz specifically in mind. A team with five-straight playoff exits before the conference finals, including two first-round exits in two of the past three years, the team might be due for a massive shake-up. This feels especially plausible when we consider their stumble since the All-Star break. The team has held just a .500 record over the last 20 games, losing six of their last seven games. Snyder has also watched his team lose a 25-point lead to the Clippers and a 16-point lead to the Warriors (in the 4th quarter!) in two of the past three games.
While it’s hard to imagine the Jazz want to enter full-rebuild mode, it does feel like they could look to do something drastic to satisfy All-Star and Rising Star Donovan Mitchell. Could that involve moving on from 3x DPOY Rudy Gobert? What about All-Star guard Mike Conley or reliable role players like Bojan Bogdanovic or Jordan Clarkson? And, if the team was to go that route, could the Bulls become interested in any names?
Gobert feels like the most understandable target for a win-now Bulls team looking to fortify its frontcourt, but there is also no question that would come with an absolutely massive pricetag (one the Bulls might not even be able to afford). Bogdanovic also feels like a big wing who can surely help this team with his career 39.2 percent shot from downtown.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here, but I do think this is the kind of thought exercise we are allowed to dabble with when news like this Vogel story drops. The fact of the matter is the Bulls have been one of the most active franchises over the past season and a half, and I think it’s fair to assume Arturas Karnisovas will continue to look for every opportunity to improve this group. This will be something to keep an eye on.
You can read Fischer’s full report below:
Facing elimination tonight, the Lakers are still expected to part ways with coach Frank Vogel at season’s end. Two names most often linked by league figures as potential replacements currently coach other teams: Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers. More at @BR_NBA: https://t.co/ldgWmgZMyu
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) April 5, 2022