Frank Vogel has cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols and will coach the Los Angeles Lakers Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Mike Trudell. Vogel has missed the past six games since entering the protocols. With Rajon Rondo getting traded to Cleveland and Trevor Ariza clearing protocols on Thursday, the Lakers no longer have any players out due to COVID-19.
Vogel's absence has been felt over the past six games. Earlier in the season, there were rumors that his job was not safe due to the team's poor start. Yet without him, the Lakers limped to a 1-5 record. They lost to teams that they should have beaten and blew leads that should have secured victories. Vogel's defensive brilliance in particular was missed. The Lakers have allowed 116.6 points per 100 possessions since he's been out. David Fizdale served as head coach during Vogel's absence, but he will now return to his role as an assistant and offensive coordinator.
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The Lakers are about to embark upon one of the most important stretches of their entire season. At 17-19, they are about to kick off a five-game homestand with four games against non-playoff teams. Once that homestand ends, their schedule not only starts to fill up with tougher opponents, but any semblance of a home-road balance disappears. They will have 16 remaining home games compared to 25 remaining road games. If the Lakers are going to right this ship, it almost certainly needs to happen now.
Getting Vogel back was critical on that front. With Anthony Davis out, the Lakers couldn't afford to be without their head coach any longer. Now at least they'll have their entire staff as they attempt to get this disappointing season back on track.