The Indiana Pacers are coming off of one of the most notorious late season collapses in the recent history of the NBA, and there was a lot of blame put on head coach Frank Vogel’s shoulders. He didn’t understand how to stop the drama that was going on between the team, and he was unwilling to change up his rotations to correct issues. Those two things alone made the criticism that he received legitimate and correct.
Vogel seemed to play “buddy ball” down the stretch of the season, and was unwilling to give deserving players some playing time. One of the obvious signs of that was Chris Copeland, who could have helped fix two of the Pacers’ biggest issues with both three-point shooting and bench scoring. The other was not replacing Luis Scola as the backup power forward when he was unable to do anything off of the bench but miss shots and play horrible defense.
Granted, Vogel is still a very young coach and is learning the game each and every season. That being said, Larry Bird told him that he should play his bench more often early on in the season and he continued to ignore the advice that was given to him. It seems that one of the greatest players of all-time and a good coach as well gives you advice on how to improve, that you would take it and learn from it. Unfortunately, that was not the case and Vogel’s stubbornness ended up hurting the team down the stretch.
So the question becomes, is Vogel on the coaching hot seat this coming season?
Quite frankly, the answer is that he most definitely is on the hot seat. He has failed to get his talented team past LeBron James and the Miami Heat, and especially last season was unable to play the right players in order to beat the Heat. That being said, failing to beat Miami is not the reason that he is on the hot seat.
His biggest issue is that he is unable to adjust to games, feel the momentum of the game, and most of all is unwilling to work on that area of his coaching. If he decides to listen to Bird’s advice this season, or even considers playing his bench and giving other players a chance, he might just find that his team plays better. There are many issues with his coaching, but many of them are because of his stubbornness rather than simply being a bad coach.
All of that being said, this could very well be Vogel’s last season coaching the Pacers unless he changes some of his current tactics. Bird has made it clear that he wants to see the bench used more often, and different players allowed to play minutes if a particular player is struggling. If Vogel is able to tweak his coaching to work those two things in, then he will be back for 2015 season at the least. If he doesn’t work those two things in, he will likely be out next offseason and Bird will be looking to hire a new head coach.