Who or what is to blame for the Lakers’ early season lulls?
After practice on Monday, LeBron James and Frank Vogel responded to criticism of the Lakers’ third-year head coach after a 119-115 loss to the Clippers on Friday.
“I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” James said with a slight laugh. “Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor.”
While James took responsibility for the Lakers’ struggles, at the same time he didn’t spare Vogel from the mounting pressure and blame for the Lakers’ 12-12 start to the season.
As The Athletic noted, James also failed to answer the second part of a reporter’s question, where he was asked to “evaluate” Vogel’s coaching. He added that the Lakers “don’t mind some adversity” or “people saying things about us” because it “comes with the territory.”
James noted that “everything stays in house” with the Lakers, when it comes to “preparation” for their next opponent.
“Frank doesn’t care, and we don’t either, about what people are saying.”
The Lakers currently rank 17th in defensive efficiency and 22nd in offense. They’ve dealt with a rotating roster due to a number of injuries, including James, who recently missed eight straight games due to an abdominal strain.
“There’s going to be criticism with this job,” Vogel said after Monday’s practice. “It’s something we’re all accustomed to. And I’ve been a coach for ten years, I’ve seen it all.”
Vogel spent six seasons with the Pacers and two with the Magic before joining the Lakers in 2019 and winning a title in his first season.
“Yes, it’s more national. Is there a bigger fanbase in this market in L.A.? Yes, there is. But it’s been there for every head coach, and it’s something I’m not unfamiliar with,” Vogel said.
The four-time NBA champion on Monday also expressed confidence in the Lakers’ roster, which includes new additions in Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook. New Lakers Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn have yet to play due to injury.
“It’s impossible for me to say OK, when do we get to a point that we need to make a change. And then I don’t think we even need to do that. I love every guy that’s in this locker room and I believe in what we’re doing,” James said.
The Lakers host the Celtics on Tuesday.