Lakers fire head coach Frank Vogel

The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Frank Vogel.

Vogel was the 27th head coach in franchise history. During his tenure, Vogel compiled a 127-98 (.564) record and led the Lakers to their 17th NBA championship during the 2019-20 season.

Per the Los Angeles Times, “the Lakers fired coach Frank Vogel on Monday just two years after he led the team to its 17th NBA championship and first since 2010. In the seasons since, Vogel’s teams have been decimated by injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers losing in the first round of the 2021 playoffs before missing the postseason in 2022. It culminated with a 49-loss season during which the Lakers were never more than three games over .500 and in which Vogel used 40 starting lineups.”

Per the Orange County Register, “LeBron James spoke to reporters Monday morning as Vogel’s status remained unconfirmed. He said he had not been told that Vogel had been fired: “I’ve seen the reports just like everybody else.”

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank both on and off the court,” said Rob Pelinka, the Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager. “Frank is a great coach and a good man. We will forever be grateful to him for his work in guiding us to the 2019-20 NBA championship. This is an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one we feel is necessary at this point. All of us here wish Frank and his wonderful family all the best for the future.”

LeBron James dealing with swelling in knee

LeBron James’ knee needs to be checked out. Via ESPN.com:

Lakers star LeBron James flew back to Los Angeles on Saturday for treatment on his ailing left knee and will not be with the team for the end of its six-game road trip against the Hawks on Sunday, according to Lakers coach Frank Vogel.

James underwent an MRI that revealed “general swelling,” Vogel said. Sunday is the third straight game that James, 37, has missed because of the knee.

“As long as the swelling is there, he’s going to be out and we’ll get him back as soon as we can,” Vogel said.

LeBron James enters NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols

The Lakers, who are still finding their way this season, will be without LeBron James for hopefully just a very brief while. Via the Los Angeles Times:

LeBron James has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and will miss the Lakers’ game tonight against the Sacramento Kings, the team announced.

According to NBA rules, vaccinated players, like James, enter the protocols either after a positive test result or after inconclusive test results. According to the protocols, a vaccinated player can return if he tests negative for the virus on consecutive tests 24 hours apart or if it’s been 10 days without symptoms.

And from the Orange County Register:

While the Lakers did not officially say what triggered the action, ESPN reported that James is expected to miss multiple games, implying that the Lakers star has tested positive for COVID-19. Players and staffers can also enter protocols for a close encounter with someone who has tested positive.

At the very least, it means that James missed Tuesday night’s game at the Sacramento Kings – and will perhaps miss much more time.

“Obviously it’s a huge loss. It’s disappointing,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “We just want the best for him right now. That’s where our thoughts are. And we have a next-man-up mindset.”

LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart suspended for altercation

Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart has been suspended two games without pay for escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James in an unsportsmanlike manner, and James has been suspended one game without pay for recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, President, League Operations.

Stewart was assessed two technical fouls, James was assessed a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2, and both players were ejected. The incident began with a loose ball foul on Stewart with 9:18 remaining in the third quarter of the Pistons’ 121-116 loss to the Lakers on Nov. 21 at Little Caesars Arena.

Per the Detroit News, “in his repeated attempts to get to James, Stewart had to be restrained by several teammates, coaches and security personnel. He looked to be calm for a moment, then raced toward the middle of the court again to try to get to James.”

Stewart will serve his suspensions Tuesday, Nov. 23 when the Pistons host the Miami Heat at Little Caesars Arena and Wednesday, Nov. 24 when Detroit faces the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum.

James will serve his suspension Tuesday, Nov. 23 when the Lakers visit the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

LeBron James named a 2021 NBA All-Star Game starter and team captain

LeBron James has been selected by fans, current NBA players and a media panel to start in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on Sunday, March 7 in Atlanta.

James’ 17 All-Star selections are the third most in NBA history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19) and Kobe Bryant (18). James, the leading scorer in All-Star Game history (385 points), is set to extend his record for consecutive All-Star starts to 17 – a streak that began in his second NBA season, 2004-05.

As one of the NBA All-Star Game starters who led their respective conferences in fan votes during NBA All-Star Voting 2021, James will serve as a team captain for the Team LeBron vs. Team Durant matchup and draft the rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference. TNT will air the 2021 NBA All-Star Draft on Thursday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET. LeBron will be serving as a team captain for the 4th year in a row.

Along with James (frontcourt), the Western Conference starter pool includes the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (guard), the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Dončić (guard), the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić (frontcourt) and the LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard (frontcourt).

In the Eastern Conference, Kevin Durant (frontcourt) is joined in the starter pool by the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (frontcourt), the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal (guard), the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (frontcourt) and the Nets’ Kyrie Irving (guard).

LeBron James and Anthony Davis may not rush into NBA preseason

Starting Friday, we’ll have NBA games again. Sure, it’ll just be preseason. But just 11 days after that, the regular season tips off, and that’s real basketball right there.

This Friday, the Lakers are one of the team’s taking court. But some key stars may not participate. Via the OC Register:

While the team is slated for a preseason game against the Clippers on Friday night at Staples Center, they probably won’t be at full strength. And after Tuesday’s training camp session, the team’s third as a group, Coach Frank Vogel said of stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, “it’s probably unlikely that they play.”

It’s not a surprise: The team has pitched patience since returning to the court in the last week, given that the Lakers are just two months removed from winning the 2020 title. Normal offseason rhythms have been interrupted, and team trainers and medical staffers have cautioned coaches about diving too quickly into game-ready play.

While Davis said he’s not normally the kind of player who seeks out pick-up sessions in the offseason, he has a routine of working with trainers in smaller settings. After winning a championship with the Lakers in October then taking much of last month to sort out a new contract, he’s gotten little of his normal offseason plan accomplished – the Lakers’ four-game preseason, with just two weeks until the regular-season opener on Dec. 22, now serves as part of the ramp-up to playing shape.

Normally, all key players participate in preseason, but usually play very limited minute But this season’s training camp and preseason period is very brief, so teams will have to develop chemistry in a hurry.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they just won the NBA championship. So while they did make some offseason changes, they have no reason to rush.

Lakers beat Heat in six games, win 2020 NBA championship

LA Times: “Through the darkness and drama, the questions about whether the Lakers’ luster was gone forever, remained the hope that a day like this would happen again. A championship. Confetti sprayed all over the court. A superstar puffing a cigar, grinning at what he’d done. On Sunday evening, the Lakers became champions for the 17th time with a 106-93 win over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. This time they did it in a gym shaped like Mickey Mouse with two superstars who came to resuscitate the franchise. Anthony Davis came because of LeBron James.”

OC Register: “James led Sunday’s attentive attack, with a full-steam-ahead triple-double: a team-high 28 points and 10 assists to go with 14 rebounds. The multi-talented 35-year-old was named Finals MVP, becoming the first player to earn the honor with three teams, having previously done it in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat and in 2016 with Cleveland. And in his 260th playoff game, James surpassed former Laker Derek Fisher for most postseason contests played in NBA history. He also improved his personal Finals record to 4-6, as one of only four players to appear in 10 or more NBA Finals series, along with Bill Russell, Sam Jones and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”

OC Register: And so in the most unpredictable, most emotionally taxing and most endurance-testing season any basketball team has ever played, the Lakers came out on top, 106-93, rolling over the Heat in the sixth game of the series with a thudding sense of finality to their 16-5 postseason run. There will be no historical arguments: The Lakers were the best team, and it was in the refrigerator by halftime, when they led by 28 points. It was the 17th championship in franchise history for an organization that grew used to winning, but slogged through a decade without a Finals appearance and six of those without even making the playoffs. James (28 points), in his 17th season, captained the effort for his fourth Finals MVP award – an honor he’s received along with every title he’s ever won at previous stints in Miami and Cleveland. But his fourth championship is one of his most defining: He became one of just four men in NBA history to win titles with three different franchises (teammate Danny Green also joined this club) and the only one of the quartet to be a foundational player on each of those teams.

OC Register: “Wherever Danny Green goes, championships seem to follow. “Been very lucky,” he said Sunday after the Lakers clinched the 2020 NBA title by beating the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals – a feat that qualified Green and LeBron James among just four players who have won titles with three franchises. The other two members of the club: Robert Horry and John Salley. James’ previous titles came in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat and in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.”

OC Register: “Miami suffered the aftereffects of Erik Spoelstra’s decision to use only seven players in Game 5. They were shanking layups from the beginning. The Lakers’ venom came out when they saw Miami’s fatigue. They outscored Miami 14-0 in the paint in the first half, outscored Miami 14-0 on fast breaks, and held the Heat to 34.2 percent shooting. Miami’s offense was reduced to contortion. It was an awkward 22 for 42 in the paint. The Lakers eliminated all the comfortable catch-and-shoots, too. In the end, the Heat players looked like they were playing against Dad. Vogel set up the blowout with a move that can only come from a coach who is trusted. He started Caruso and benched center Dwight Howard. That allowed the Lakers to chase the shooters outside, to better handle pick-and-rolls, and to let Davis spread his wings at the rim.”

OC Register: “Bryant and his family were never far from the Lakers’ hearts and minds. “One, two, three Mamba,” they would chant, referring to his Black Mamba nickname, after putting their hands together before heading onto the court to start every game, every quarter, every half and after every timeout. “We didn’t let him down, we didn’t let him down,” center Anthony Davis said. “Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him. We didn’t let him down. It would have been great to do it last game in his jerseys. But it made us come out more aggressive, more powerful on both ends of the floor to make sure we closed it out (Sunday). I know he’s looking down on us, proud of us. I know Vanessa (Bryant’s wife) is proud of us, the organization is proud of us. “It means a lot to us. He was a big brother to all of us. We did this for him.””

LA Times: “Lonzo Ball. Brandon Ingram. Josh Hart. The No. 4 pick. First-round picks that stretch into the middle of the decade. The Lakers traded a lot — some would say their future — for Anthony Davis. But the deal that netted them a championship, the franchise’s 17th, wasn’t a trade for the present. It was a deal for the future — the next great Laker celebrating a championship. Davis isn’t leaving. The way he’s played in his first season in purple and gold, it’s obvious he’s just getting started. He’s been the perfect partner for LeBron James and it’s hard to imagine a better situation.”

Sun Sentinel: “James closed with a triple-double Sunday, with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, supported by 19 points and 15 rebounds from Davis. For the Heat, there were 25 points and 10 rebounds from Adebayo, as well as 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds from Butler. Ultimately, the bubble burst Sunday for the Heat as the champagne flowed for the Lakers, a forgettable Heat night that followed an unforgettable season. “I told Coach Pat, I told Coach Spo I’m here to win one,” Butler said. “I didn’t do my job, so moving forward, I got to hold up my end of the bargain.”

Heat edge Lakers 111-108 in NBA Finals Game 5 win

“The Miami Heat would not allow the coronation. They’d seen the preparations underway for a championship celebration, the Mamba uniforms the Lakers never had lost in while wearing, the gold shoes on Anthony Davis’ feet — gold like the trophy he thought he’d be hoisting later Friday night. Not if Jimmy Butler had anything to say about it. Nor his teammate Duncan Robinson, whom the Lakers couldn’t stop from making threes, even by fouling him. The Heat won Game 5 of the NBA Finals 111-108, despite 40 points from LeBron James, and delayed the Lakers’ hopes for a 17th championship. The longest season in the history of the NBA will last at least two more days. Game 6 will be Sunday evening, with the Lakers’ lead now trimmed to 3-2.” — LA Times

“Butler scored 35 points, 22 in the first half, and notched his second triple-double of the Finals, with 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. He joined James as the only players with multiple triple-doubles in an NBA Finals. James finished shy of one for the fifth time this series with 13 rebounds and seven assists, while Davis scored 28 points with 12 rebounds.” — LA Times

“Danny Green was wide open. He was wide open at the precise spot that Robert Horry stood against Sacramento in 2002. He was wide open with a chance to do what Anthony Davis did to Denver a couple of weeks ago… The shot went clank, the Lakers went clunk, and now a lock has gone loopy and the NBA Finals have gone crazy.” — LA Times

“The Lakers suddenly have to worry that they have nobody to guard Duncan Robinson, the Heat guard who was unstoppable deep, connecting on seven three-pointers with few defenders around him.” — LA Times

“And more than anything, the Lakers have to worry about Anthony Davis, who re-injured a sore right heel at the end of the first quarter and was limping by the game’s end. Davis finished with 28 points, but he slowed as the game proceeded, and seemed stuck to the floor during the Lakers’ final chance.” — LA Times

“With Goran Dragic out and Bam Adebayo fighting a neck injury, it’s been primarily on Butler to do everything — score, rebound, pass and defend. He’s played at least 43 minutes in the last four Finals games. It was more than him Friday, Duncan Robinson’s shooting and Kendrick Nunn’s aggression playing major factors in the outcome. But its obvious that Butler’s spirit drives it all. And Friday, he sat out of the game for just 48 seconds. “I left it all out there on the floor,” Butler said.” — LA Times

“Butler continued his magnificent championship series with 35 points on 11-of-19 shooting, 1-of-3 shooting on threes and 12-of-12 shooting from the foul line, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals on Friday. It marked his second triple-double of the Finals, as he also finished the Heat’s Game 3 win with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to become the third player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double in the Finals. Friday’s performance didn’t include much rest for Butler, who played 47:12 of the 48 minutes.” — Miami Herald

“But James was magnificent Friday, too. The four-time MVP finished Game 5 with 40 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 42 minutes.” — Miami Herald

“The Lakers’ second star Anthony Davis was also effective with 28 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in 42 minutes. Davis was limping toward the end of the game after re-aggravating his right heel contusion, but he said “I’ll be fine” for Game 6.” — Miami Herald

Lakers beat Heat 102-96, take 3-1 lead in NBA Finals

LA Times: “In Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers found a way. They had just enough to come out ahead 102-96 and take a 3-1 series lead over the Heat in the best-of-seven series and are now one win away from securing the franchise’s 17th championship. James led the Lakers, scoring 28 points, eight assists and 12 rebounds, while Davis scored 22 points, with four assists and nine rebounds, distinguishing himself with his stifling defense on Miami star Jimmy Butler. James and Davis each made eight of 16 shots attempted. The importance of this game wasn’t lost on the Lakers. They were on edge after their Game 3 loss Sunday, unhappy with how that game unfolded. Just in case, James wanted them to know just how important it was to him.”

Miami Herald: “Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James seemed to control the second half of Game 4, with 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists during the final two quarters. He scored only eight points on 3-of-8 shooting in the first half. James finished Los Angeles’ victory with 28 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers. Five of his six turnovers came in the first half. The Lakers’ second star was also very good in Game 4. Big man Anthony Davis recorded 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks in the win. Davis and James combined for 34 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in the second half.”

Miami Herald: Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler followed up his historic 40-point Game 3 triple-double performance by almost picking up another triple-double. He finished Tuesday’s loss with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 10 rebounds, nine assists and three steals, as the Lakers used Davis and James to defend Butler for most of the game.

Miami Herald: “Adebayo was relatively effective in his return Tuesday, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes. On the defensive end, Adebayo took on the challenge of guarding Davis during stretches. But Adebayo was quiet in the fourth quarter, with two points on one shot, one rebound and zero assists in the period.”

Miami Herald: “This is the Heat team that steamrolled Indiana in the first round of the playoffs and then eliminated Giannis Antetokounmpo and No. 1 seed Milwaukee in the second. The Lakers with LeBron and A.D. were supposed to dominate fifth-seeded Miami, which didn’t even make the playoffs the year before. And that was before starters and key players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic were lost to injuries in the series. Dragic remains out with a foot injury, tearfully, as he described it Tuesday. Adebayo played well in his return, though surely not 100 percent.”

OC Register: KCP, as he’s known to Laker Nation’s resident fans and critics, finished with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting. That offensive production included a couple of big buckets late that helped L.A. wrestle a hard-fought victory away from the Miami Heat in the bubble at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. With the Lakers leading only 90-88 and about 3 minutes left, Caldwell-Pope sprinted to the corner in transition, ready and awaiting LeBron James’ pass, which he caught, shot and converted for one of his three corner 3-pointers of the night. “That’s really one of my specialties,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I’m always running from end to end, corner to corner.” Moments later, Caldwell-Pope let the Lakers breathe yet easier when he got Duncan Robinson to bite on a fake at the top of the key, blew past the Heat guard and flew all the way to the rim for a soaring and sensationally timed layup off the backboard that made it 95-88 with 2:02 to go.

OC Register: With two minutes left in the fourth game of the NBA Finals, Caldwell-Pope found himself with the ball and Miami’s Duncan Robinson guarding him. That invited Caldwell-Pope to burst to the bucket and put the Lakers up by seven, and then Davis and Rajon Rondo expanded that cushion. The Lakers now lead, 3-1, with this 102-96 win. Like the steamfitters and stampers and fabricators that they resembled, they took a shower after they worked. “We don’t really have a third scorer,” Kyle Kuzma said, after he and the rest of the Laker bench outscored Miami’s reserves 27-14 and had 14 rebounds. “Our scorers are AD and LeBron, and then the rest of us play team basketball. Any of us can step up at any time.”

Jimmy Butler gets triple-double, Heat beat Lakers in NBA Finals Game 3

ESPN.com: “Jimmy Butler’s 40-point triple-double on Sunday pushed the injury-ridden Miami Heat to a 115-104 win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, avoiding a 3-0 series death knell. For 45 minutes, Butler slashed to the basket and jockeyed with Lakers defenders for offensive rebounds on his way to finishing with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. His stat line puts him in esteemed company: Butler was just the third player in Finals history to have a 40-point triple-double, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information, joining Jerry West and LeBron James.”

ESPN.com: “The win does give the Heat some extra time to potentially get Goran Dragic — who missed the past two games with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot — and Bam Adebayo — who missed the same two games with a strained neck — back on the floor. “I go to war for those guys because whenever they’re out there, they’re going to war with and for me,” Butler said.”

LA Times: “With 10 seconds remaining in his team’s embarrassing 115-104 loss to the undermanned Miami Heat on Sunday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James turned his back and walked off the court. A handful of teammates followed. Even though the clock still was ticking, there were soon only two Lakers left on the floor. When there was a stoppage in play with about a second remaining, Lakers coach Frank Vogel had to insert three new players into the game just to finish it. It was unsightly. It was humiliating. It was basically how the Lakers handled their business the entire night at the AdventHealth Arena near Orlando, Fla., surrendering the ball, acquiescing to Jimmy Butler, conceding to a team missing two of its best players but clearly not its fight.”

ESPN.com: “With Adebayo and Dragic sidelined, that three-pronged offense was reduced to a single leg. Forget about those nifty three-man actions playing off Adebayo at the elbow, and forget about Dragic’s whirling and probing that sucks the defense in and produces kick-out 3-pointers. The Heat would have to concoct some high-grade lemonade, with Butler — master brewer himself — at the controls. What the Heat lost in versatility they gained in individual dominance on Sunday evening. Butler was aggressive, crafty, unselfish and, in key moments, sublime. As both playmaker and scorer, Butler owned the half court in Game 3. He scored 40 points, dished out 13 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds. He got to the free throw line 14 times, and took on the assignment of defending LeBron James for extended stretches.”

OC Register: “Adebayo worked out before Sunday’s game, and Miami coach Eric Spoelstra talked of how it was agonizing to have to sit Adebayo and Goran Dragic (plantar fascia tear) Sunday but he had to be responsible for their health. “I know how much this means to (Adebayo), and I know how much he wants to be out there,” Spoelstra said. “This is one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve had to make with the trainers and with Pat (Riley) and everybody, but it’s the most responsible thing.” The Heat, which has already knocked off Milwaukee and Boston, climbed back into this series with Butler’s brilliance and a mixture of resilience, resolve and good old fashioned aggression.”

Miami Herald: “According to Elias Sports, Butler scored or assisted on 73 points Sunday and that’s tied for the second-most in a Finals game in NBA history behind only Walt Frazier’s 74 points. Butler’s Heat teammates combined to score 75 points on 45 percent shooting in Game 3. Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk each scored 17 points in the win, and Jae Crowder was important with 12 points, eight rebounds and solid defense. Butler is averaging 22.1 points on 48.2 percent shooting, 5.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 37.3 minutes this postseason.”

Miami Herald: “The Heat started Herro in Dragic’s place and center Meyers Leonard in Adebayo’s place Sunday for the second consecutive game.”

OC Register: “The Lakers’ offensive dysfunction was a team effort, including a couple of duds from shooters Kentavius Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green. The bubble has haunted Green for much of the Lakers’ extended stay; the two-time NBA champion was a 41.6% field-goal shooter in the regular season, but he’s shooting 33.3 percent from the field in the playoffs, when he’s 33.0% from 3-point range.”

OC Register: “And in the past two games of the Finals, Green is a combined 1 for 14, including missing all six of his shots Sunday. Caldwell-Pope hasn’t been much better this series: He’s 8 for 29 so far against the Heat, including going 1 for 5 on Sunday. That’s well off the typical pace for the guard who was a 46.7% shooter from the floor and a 38.5% 3-point shooter in the regular season.”