One playoff victory won’t do it for Frank Vogel. It will likely take a playoff series or more for him to retain his job.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Vogel is “coaching for his job.” Yes, the coach who guided the Indiana Pacers to a 56-win regular season and a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, is on the hot seat after his team’s second-half struggles and playoff-opening loss to the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks.
Defeating the Hawks in the opening round of the playoffs will not secure Vogel’s job, per the report, as there are lingering questions about the team’s 16-15 record to end the regular season. Vogel’s fate rests with Pacers president Larry Bird, though rumbles out of the organization indicate there are questions about the coach that began as early in February prior to the NBA All-Star Break.
The Pacers’ knocked out the New York Knicks during the 2012-13 playoffs then went toe-to-toe with the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, and as a result the expectations for the 2013-14 season were raised. Expectations were further elevated after the team made offseason moves to bring in C.J. Watson and Luis Scola, then acquired center Andrew Bynum and made a deadline deal to nab Evan Turner from the Philadelphia 76ers.
Since joining Indiana, Bynum has steadily been a presence on the bench. And there are concerns that Turner’s offensive style does not mesh with that of the Pacers. Turner was traded for Danny Granger, who was the team’s primary sixth man.
In addition, Yahoo! Sports reported that guard Lance Stephenson and Turner got into a tussle during the practice before the team’s Game 1 loss to Atlanta. It wasn’t Stephenson’s first conflict with a teammate. Earlier in the year, he and George Hill had to be separated on the bench during a 26-point home loss to San Antonio on March 31.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports the team lacks a certain discipline now that former Pacers assistant Brian Shaw has moved on to the Denver Nuggets. Vogel and Shaw served in a “good cop, bad cop” sort of role, which may have led to the team’s off-the-field incidents in recent weeks.