Frank Vogel has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will coach the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Mike Trudell. Vogel has missed the last six games since entering Protocols. With Rajon Rondo traded to Cleveland and Trevor Ariza compensation protocols on Thursday, the Lakers are out of players due to COVID-19.
Vogel’s absence has been felt over the past six games. Earlier in the season there had been rumors that his job was unsafe due to the team’s poor start. Yet without him, the Lakers limped to a 1-5 record. They lost to teams they should have beaten and lost advances that should have secured victories. Vogel’s defensive brilliance in particular was missed. The Lakers have allowed 116.6 points per 100 possessions since his absence. David Fizdale served as head coach during Vogel’s absence, but will now return to his role as assistant and offensive coordinator.
The Lakers are set to embark on one of the most important stretches of their entire season. At 17-19, they’re set to kick off a five-game homestand with four games against non-playoff teams. Once this homestand ends, their schedule not only begins to fill up with tougher opponents, but any semblance of home and road balance vanishes. They will have 16 games left at home against 25 games remaining on the road. If the Lakers are to right this ship, it almost certainly has to happen now.
Vogel’s return was essential on this front. With Anthony Davis absent, the Lakers could no longer afford to be without their head coach. Now at least they will have all their staff to try and get this disappointing season back on track.