UPDATE: Larry Bird made it official. Frank Vogel will not be the coach for the Indiana Pacers next season.
Last night, seemingly immediately after the Pacers season ended in a defeat to the Toronto Raptors, the offseason drama began for the Pacers with a Woj Bomb.
“Wait, what?” was the general reaction for Pacers writers, bloggers, and fans as well as the national media. Although Vogel was deservedly criticized at times for his rotations (STAGGER!) and inept offense especially late in games, he’s still a top young coach in the league. He’s a defensive wizard.
But the Pacers and Vogel have been through rumors like this in the past, throughout the Struggle of 2014 in the playoffs it was speculated that Bird would let Vogel go if the Pacers didn’t make it back to the conference finals. Bird refuted these claims saying he had no idea where they came from.
So, maybe it was nothing again? Just rumors in the wind? Well, it doesn’t look that way. As Gregg Doyel, Indy Star’s print version of Skip Bayless, tweeted this out today:
Bird told Doyel that he’s not sure if he’ll bring Vogel back to coach the team next year.
“What I don’t want to do is leave Frank hanging,” said Bird. “There’s other jobs out there he could get.”
It all kind of sounds like the writing is on the wall for Vogel, much like last year when Bird was very forward with criticism of Roy Hibbert in his season-ending press conference as he also suggested that he would have a reduced role if he returned. He ended up being traded to the Lakers.
“We need to score more points,” said Bird. “If Frank comes back, what can we do to get better on offense?”
Bird said that his decision could come tomorrow or next week after he meets with team owner Herb Simon. Doyel said Bird is deciding between making a roster overhaul, a coaching change, or both.
“Frank’s a great guy,” said Bird. “He’s going to be fine no matter what happens. If he’s back, he’ll be fine here. If he’s not, he’s not. We’ll see.”
Vogel has led the Pacers to the playoffs in 5 of his 6 seasons as head coach, including his time as interim head coach. The Pacers have a record of 31-30 in the playoffs during that stretch, winning 5 playoff series and losing 5 playoff series. His record is 250-181 (0.580 W%).
In Vogel’s last four seasons as head coach, the Pacers defense has rated in the top 3 in three of them (1st, 1st, 8th, 3rd), but his offenses have never ranked higher than 19th.
What do you think? Keep Frank? Let him go? Who do you want to replace him?