The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Frank Vogel after a poor campaign that saw them miss the play-offs.
Vogel’s team won 33 of their games but lost 49 in a season that saw them finish 11th in the Western Conference.
His last game on Sunday was a 146-141 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said: “It’s an incredibly difficult decision to make, but we believe it’s necessary at this point.”
Speaking after the win over Denver, Vogel said “we’ll take care of tomorrow, tomorrow” as reports suggested he was going to lose his job.
Confirming the news on Monday, the Lakers released a statement thanking him for his efforts as the 48-year-old led them to the NBA championship in 2020.
“I have tremendous respect for Frank both on and off the court,” added Pelinka, who is also vice president of basketball operations for the Lakers.
“Frank is a great coach and a good man. We will be forever grateful to him for his work guiding us to the 2019-20 NBA Championship.”
There are currently no favorites to succeed Vogel and the process of finding a sixth full-time head coach since Phil Jackson’s retirement in 2011 is expected to take some time.
Vogel is the only coach, besides Jackson, to lead the team to a championship in 30 years.
Lakers star player LeBron James, 37, says he has nothing but respect for Vogel despite failing to make the NBA postseason for the fourth time only from his stellar 19-year career.
“I respect Frank as a coach, as a man,” added the four-time NBA champion. “The partnership we’ve had over the past few years has been nothing but beautiful, candid conversations.
“He’s a guy who gives everything to the game.”
After joining the Lakers in 2019 on a three-year contract, Vogel helped the team win the 2020 title in Orlando, Florida. He was rewarded with a contract extension at the end of 2020-21 as his side earned a reputation as one of the best defensive teams in his first two seasons in charge.
However, they finished the season in the bottom 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency, ranking 21st in defensive rating after finishing first in 2020-21 and third in 2019-20.
Missing the playoffs was hugely disappointing for the Lakers. They lost 121-110 to the Phoenix Suns which was, at the time, their seventh consecutive loss.
The Lakers entered the campaign as one of the favorites in the Western Conference, however, several factors contributed to them falling short of expectations, including injuries to several key players.
James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook only played together in 21 games – and they held an 11-10 record in those games.
In total, the Lakers have lost 18 of 24 games after the All-Star break, with only the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers finishing with worse records during that span.
Vogel is likely to be in demand. During stints with Indiana, the Orlando Magic and the Lakers, he won a championship and reached the conference final three times. He ends his time in Los Angeles with a 127-98 record.