After former Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson took a blowtorch to the franchise during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take in an attempt to shed light on the dysfunction currently marring his former squad, it’s fair to question if the Lakers’ ongoing front office power struggle will extend to it’s coaching quarters when it comes to new head man Frank Vogel and lead assistant Jason Kidd.
Vogel, who was pinned as Los Angeles’ new coach after Monty Williams accepted the same position with the Phoenix Suns and talks between the Lakers and Ty Lue reached an impasse, pointed out during his introductory press conference that despite he and Kidd not having a pre-existing relationship, he considers Kidd a strong hire and isn’t worried about the prospect of Kidd supplanting him as head coach in the near future.
“I have been around this business a long time. I really don’t give that a second thought. You can say that about every coach in the league about their assistant coaches. It happens from time to time. I believe if you treat people with the right respect and do the job at the highest level, build an environment of positivity and collaboration, you can’t worry about that stuff.
“You can’t worry about looking over your shoulder. You got to worry about getting good damn coaches, and that is how I feel about this hire.”
Vogel went on to say that he conducted a “lengthy” interview process with Kidd and that he believes the former Milwaukee Bucks head coach will be an “incredible asset,” to the Lakers, an answer packed with media correctness.
There was no alternate way for Vogel to retort when faced with questions about Kidd.
It’s no secret that Kidd has been linked to the Lakers in a head coaching capacity before, and he was actually the third candidate interviewed when the Lakers began conducting their coaching search shortly after their offseason got underway.
Aside from a contract that Lue viewed as unfavorable, talks between the former Cleveland Cavaliers head and the Lakers’ front office broke down after the team attempted to force the placement of Kidd on Lue’s staff, highlighting him as a “preferred candidate.”
Los Angeles should’ve never pressured Lue, who was viewed as the best candidate for the Lakers’ vacancy due to his championship-tested relationship with LeBron James, to appoint Kidd as a top assistant.
There’s a lot that comes with having Kidd on your coaching staff, with the greatest hazard of all being the potential for a grapple over coaching authority.
It’s no secret that Kidd is angling to re-enter the NBA’s coaching sphere after his stint with the Bucks, and it wouldn’t shock me if he demonstrated some undermining behavior in an attempt to seize more coaching jurisdiction.
Over the past few months, we’ve received loads of news that has shed light on the unraveling of the Lakers, none of it flattering. It’s almost as if it’s a free-for-all in the front office, something akin to the WWE’s Royal Rumble.
When you consider how unstable the Lakers seem to be at this given moment, I question if they have the resolve as a franchise to prevent their power struggles at the top from tiptoeing into their coaching quarters when it comes to Vogel and Kidd.
Something about this screams impending doom to me. Kidd could prove to be a fine assistant, and his floor general savvy could really aid the talents of Lakers guard Lonzo Ball (if he is still on the roster come the start of the 2019-20 season), but his past is checkered when it comes to longing for power.
In the summer of 2014, Kidd presented the Nets’ front office with a list of demands, one of which included circumventing Brooklyn GM Billy King in the organizational hierarchy. Kidd wasn’t lobbying for King to be canned but wanted to be granted more rule over the franchise than King.
Brooklyn didn’t succumb to Kidd’s pleas but rather granted the Bucks permission to speak to Kidd about hiring him, which they ended up doing as a head coach.
Some accuse Kidd of quarterbacking his own move from the Nets to the Bucks after his requests were rebuffed by Brooklyn, but whatever truly happened, it’s not unfair to question Kidd’s motives as he prepares for his first season as the Vogel’s lead assistant.
We’ve seen star players pair up on the court and fail together. Los Angeles has had their own experience in that regard with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. Who’s to say the same can’t happen with two high-profile coaches?
Frank Vogel and his staff are tasked with washing away the embarrassment of last year’s soap opera, and helping the Los Angeles Lakers inch closer to their past championship glory before LeBron James becomes too advanced in age to lead a team to a ring.
Vogel will need all of the positive reinforcement he can get from the Lakers’ brass but with the lack of stoutness in the front office and the hiring of Kidd, I’m not sure how encouraged he should be about his current “support” system.
Who would restore order if Kidd stages a revolt against Vogel? What happens if Kidd and Vogel start to oppose each other, with an awkward standoff between the two leading to a significant rift between members of the team?
Pressures from the media and Los Angeles fans’ is enough to wither someone’s spirit away, Vogel better hope there isn’t any additional duress brought on by the ones that are actually supposed have his back.