Once regarded as a rising star in his profession, Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel has fallen upon hard times.
Posting a 250-181 record during his six seasons at the helm of the Indiana Pacers, Vogel led his team to playoff appearances five times. Although the team never got over the hump, consistency was evident and he seemingly had complete control over the success of the franchise.
His time in Orlando has been a bit different.
Taking over at the helm of a rebuilding club, Vogel's Magic posted a 29-53 record last year and the team has been even worse this season. Heading into Saturday, they’re 21-51 and have struggled mightily.
It’s safe to say that Vogel hasn’t been given too many weapons to work with during his tenure. Before his first season, the team traded away Victor Oladipo and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis in exchange for veteran power forward Serge Ibaka. Then, they gave Bismack Biyombo a massive four-year contract.
They then traded Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors for Terrence Ross (who has been injured most of this season), watched Oladipo become an All-Star, Sabonis become a legitimate frontcourt producer and Biyombo become a monumental disappointment, relegated to a reserve role.
Those bad moves weren’t the only factors that have made Vogel’s job tough, however. With their first-round pick in the 2017 Draft, Orlando selected Jonathan Isaac, a very raw young offensive player out of Florida State. He has failed to make much of an impact and seemingly hasn’t made many strides in his rookie year.
Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, the team’s three most talented players by a wide margin, have dealt with injuries this season and starting point guard Elfrid Payton was handed away to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for a second-round pick midway though the season. Therefore, there has been a lot of mixing and matching in terms of lineups and rotations for Vogel and his staff.
Despite most of the cards being stacked against him, it seems like Vogel will be relieved of his duties after the season ends.
“Orlando’s ongoing malaise, especially after the promise of an unexpected 8-4 start, make it a widely held assumption in coaching circles that Vogel will be dismissed after the franchise’s sixth successive season out of the playoffs,” Marc Stein of the New York Times recently reported.
Despite the clear rebuilding path that the franchise has taken, they’ve performed at an unacceptable level over recent months. After starting 8-4, they’ve gone just 13-47 over their last 60 games.
If the Magic move on from Vogel, who has one more year left on his current contract, they’ll likely do so with a legitimate replacement in mind. It will be interesting to see what path the organization takes.
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