EL SEGUNDO — New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel called new assistant coach Jason Kidd “an incredible asset” and said he’s not going to worry about looking over his shoulder.
Vogel said that while the Lakers’ front office planted the seed of adding Kidd to his staff, he welcomed the former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks head coach as his assistant after the two connected and had a “lengthy” discussion for the first time. Vogel and Kidd did not have a previous relationship but the Lakers head coach laughed off the notion that some might view Kidd as a potential successor.
“No, I am very good at blocking out noise,” Vogel said with a chuckle when asked about how some in the media have already deemed Kidd as a successor. “I have been around this business a long time. I really don’t give that a second thought. You can say that about every coach in the league about their assistant coaches. It happens from time to time. I believe if you treat people with the right respect and do the job at the highest level, build an environment of positivity and collaboration, you can’t worry about that stuff.
“You can’t worry about looking over your shoulder. You got to worry about getting good damn coaches and that is how I feel about this hire.”
Vogel, who went 304-291 (.511) in his career as head coach of the Indiana Pacers (2010-16) and Orlando Magic (2016-18), said he’s had his most success with a strong assistant coach who has playing and coaching experience on his staff.
Kidd interviewed with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis for the head coaching vacancy before the team opted to offer Ty Lue a contract. After those negotiations broke apart, the Lakers quickly turned to plans to make Vogel head coach with hopes of adding Kidd as an assistant.
The Lakers hope the Hall of Fame point guard can help Vogel develop young players like Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. Kidd also has a relationship with LeBron James, having played alongside James on Team USA.
As a head coach, Kidd went 44-38 and reached the second round in his first-ever stint as a coach with the Nets in 2013-14 and was 138-152 in three and a half seasons in Milwaukee from 2014-18.
As the Lakers focused in on Vogel as head coach, he reached out to Kidd and the two got to know each other with a long phone conversation in which both became comfortable with one another.
“I didn’t know Jason very well prior to that,” Vogel said. “But obviously, great respect for his playing career and his coaching career. I think he’s done a good job as a head coach… This has been the model that’s best for me, in terms of building my coaching staff. Find a respected player with coaching experience that can help strengthen my message.
“I had a great, lengthy interview process with Jason where we talked about every topic you can imagine, and came away thinking he’s going to be an incredible asset to our program.”
Vogel said he addressed Kidd’s domestic abuse arrest in 2001, when Kidd pleaded guilty to charges of domestic abuse involving his then-wife Joumana, with his new assistant.
“Of course it does,” Vogel said when asked if the incident gave him pause. “But this was something that was in the past and he’s sort of spoken upon it and moved on from it. I believe he’s in a very different place then back then. And it’s going to be a positive thing for us here.”