This isn’t how it usually works, especially for a coach well respected around the NBA. But after the Raptors ended the Pacers’ season with an 89-84 win in Game 7 on Sunday night, Pacers coach Frank Vogel became a free agent.
Sources tell The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Vogel’s contract is now up, and there’s been no discussion on an extension. That’s very rare, and doubly so when you’re talking about a sideline helmsman who Woj correctly says has a “high appeal” on the open market. Wojnarowski’s Vertical coworker, Chris Mannix, agrees and says that he should be a high priority, especially considering his reputation league-wide is “sterling.”
But when the Indianapolis Star‘s Gregg Doyel approached Pacers team president Larry Bird at that uncomfortable moment directly after the buzzer sounded on a brutal Game 7 loss, he was rebuffed when he asked about Indiana’s future plans for Vogel. That’s not surprising, but a head coach as good as Vogel isn’t usually allowed to become a free agent, either.
(There’s more of Doyel’s thoughts on the Pacers and Vogel, here.)
Perhaps that’s why another basketball writer suggested Kings GM Vlade Divac add Vogel to the top of their wide-ranging search for a new Sacramento Kings coach. (Can someone please hire Patrick Ewing to coach their basketball team? The guy has more than earned it since retiring.)
But the Pacers should re-sign Frank and not just for continuity purposes or because they don’t want to lose him to the Kings. No, they should re-sign him because he’s a good coach, one who led them on their still-inchoate identity change after missing the playoffs last season — the first time they’ve missed the playoffs in his tenure as coach.
Vogel’s career 431-250 record isn’t bad, either, and they’ll need him as they continue to buttress Paul George and work away from their slow-it-down defensive-oriented team of yesteryear to the smaller, faster-paced offense they’re determined to implement moving forward.
Except, Vogel’s now chum in the water for GMs like Vlade Divac, who could really use a big-name hire to lend legitimacy to a franchise with very little anyone would call legitimate (e.g. the Lakers and Luke Walton). Larry Bird might still be mourning a lost opportunity against the Raptors in the first round, but he’ll be mourning more than that if they don’t lock Vogel up soon.