LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have reached an agreement with Frank Vogel to be their head coach, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
The Lakers are also hiring Jason Kidd, the Hall of Fame point guard who has coached the Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, as an assistant, according to the people, who were not authorized to discuss the moves publicly.
Both deals materialized Saturday and come one month after the Lakers parted ways with Luke Walton; three days after talks broke down with Tyronn Lue, their top choice; and just over 24 hours after a small group of fans gathered outside of Staples Center and protested the franchise’s recent instability.
The agreements with Vogel and Kidd were first reported by ESPN.
Vogel, 45, did not coach this season, but he had a two-season run as head coach of the Orlando Magic from 2016 to 2018 after a successful six-season tenure as coach of the Indiana Pacers. With the Lakers, Vogel will face immediate pressure to help restore an N.B.A. flagship franchise that has fallen into relative disrepair despite the addition of LeBron James last summer.
As The New York Times reported Wednesday, Lue had agreed to the Lakers’ insistence that Vogel be an assistant coach before negotiations ended. Vogel then emerged as an immediate candidate for the top post and has strong support within the Lakers’ organization from Kurt Rambis, the former Lakers player and coach who serves as an adviser to the owner Jeanie Buss.
Vogel was a finalist for the Knicks’ head coaching post in 2016 that went to Jeff Hornacek when Phil Jackson, the former Lakers coach, was the Knicks’ team president — with Rambis working under Jackson.
The Lakers (37-45) are playoff spectators for the sixth straight season, the longest drought in franchise history. James, 34, who scuffled through one of his most disappointing and injury-marred seasons, has three years left on a nine-figure contract, and the clock is ticking on the front office to maximize whatever time he has left as one of the league’s elite.
The Lakers’ season was punctuated by the departures of Walton (which was expected) and Magic Johnson, the team’s president of basketball operations (which was not). Their sudden absences have made James the most visible presence for a franchise that cannot seem to find its footing under Buss.
The protracted coaching search also appeared to reveal that the team is unwilling to completely cater to James.
In Cleveland, Lue coached James to three straight appearances in the N.B.A. finals and helped guide the 2016 team to the franchise’s first championship. But Lue could not agree on terms with the Lakers, who had insisted on having final say over Lue’s assistant coaches, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. At least two advisers close to Buss raised concerns to her that reuniting Lue with James would give James too much power, according to the people.
ESPN reported that Vogel accepted the same contract length — three seasons — that prompted Lue to stop negotiations.
Vogel becomes the Lakers’ fifth head coach — sixth if you count Bernie Bickerstaff, who coached five games on an interim basis in 2012 — since Jackson stepped down in 2011. The coaching carousel has only added to the growing chaos around the Lakers despite a core of promising young players that includes Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram.
In Indiana, Vogel coached the Pacers to five postseason appearances and two trips to the Eastern Conference finals. After the Pacers lost in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, his contract was not renewed. He left for Orlando, where he was fired after two losing seasons.
The big question now is whether Vogel can reestablish some cohesion among a group of players unsettled by this season’s failed attempts to trade for the New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis. All eyes will be on James, too, to see whether he buys into the new staff’s message.
The James factor surely helps explain hiring Kidd, who is known to command James’s respect. They have been close friends since they were teammates at the 2008 Olympics.
Kidd, who interviewed for the Lakers’ head coaching job alongside Lue, Monty Williams and Juwan Howard, instantly becomes one of the league’s most high-profile assistants.
A 10-time All-Star who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, Kidd has four-and-a-half seasons of head coaching experience, most recently with the Bucks before he was fired last season.