Head Coaching Candidate #3: Frank Vogel
There are few former head coaches that are on the market, willing to move to a new team, and already have a championship pedigree. As he isn’t on a staff this year, Frank Vogel represents the most gettable head coaching candidate for the Blazers who could bring in a winning culture and excels in their biggest area of need: defense.
Other than a forgettable tenure in Orlando, Vogel’s spearheaded two contending teams as an NBA head coach. He cut his teeth manning the sideline for the mid 2010s Indiana Pacers, one of the biggest threats to the Miami Heat dynasty.
His Paul George-led teams were stoic on defense and disciplined on offense, which took them all the way to a winner-take-all game against the best Heat team of the Lebron era.
In a poetic twist, Vogel’s greatest coaching success came with James instead of against him. After firing Luke Walton, Vogel inherited a Los Angeles Lakers team built around an aging LBJ and a brittle Anthony Davis. In his first season at the helm, Vogel helped guide the Lakers to the best record in the western conference, the third-best defensive rating in the NBA, and an NBA title while playing in the bubble.
Although he got an unfair shake to end his Lakers tenure, Vogel would immediately bring a new dimension to Portland. He’s already shown that he can win with star players, which makes him an appealing fit with Lillard, but it’s his defensive schematics and aptitude that make him such a tantalizing target.
Whether it’s eking out a shocking defensive turnaround or orchestrating roster changes to get a better defense, Blazers fans would be hard-pressed to find a potential replacement for Billups who could actually give the team the one thing they’ve lacked in their quest for a championship: a quality defensive identity.