The Los Angeles Lakers might be on the verge of making a major change. Head coach Frank Vogel is on the hot seat and could be fired soon, The Athletic reports.

Vogel was nearly fired after the Lakers were defeated by the Denver Nuggets 133-96 Saturday night, and he continues to be evaluated on a game-to-game basis, according to the report. Los Angeles’ impressive 101-95 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday may have temporarily saved Vogel’s job.

There have been rumors about Vogel’s tenuous job security for weeks. He signed a one-year extension in the summer that only put him under contract through the 2022-23 season.

Los Angeles has been among the NBA’s most disappointing teams. With a 22-22 record beyond the halfway point of the regular season, the Lakers are the No. 7 seed in a competitive Western Conference. If the postseason started today, L.A. would have to try to earn a playoff berth in the play-in tournament. 

It’s been 15 months since Vogel led the Lakers to a championship in his first year on the team’s bench. The Lakers suffered an earlier-than-expected first-round playoff exit in 2021. 

Anthony Davis has missed 17 games and counting this season. LeBron James is playing like an MVP candidate, though he was sidelined for 12 games for various ailments. Russell Westbrook has played every single game, but the dynamic point guard hasn't helped the Lakers play winning basketball.

The NBA’s best defense was a driving force in Los Angeles’ 2020 championship run. The Lakers ranked first in defensive efficiency among West teams in each of the last two years. Following Monday’s win, the Lakers are 10th out of 15 teams in the conference, giving up 109.8 points per 100 possessions.

It’s unrealistic that any of Los Angeles’ star players will be traded, making Vogel an easy target to shoulder the blame. Known as a defensive coach, Vogel is running out of time to turn things around.

The Lakers’ immediate schedule is a favorable one for a coach whose next loss might be his last. In its next two games, L.A. will host the Indiana Pacers and visit the Orlando Magic, which own two of the East’s three worst records. Vogel coincidentally coached both teams.

The trip to Orlando is the start of a six-game road trip that gets much more difficult after the game against the Magic. Los Angeles will face the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers in consecutive games. The trip ends with matchups against the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks. 

Lakers director of basketball affairs Kurt Rambis made it clear early in the season that the coaching staff would be in trouble if the team struggled, according to The Athletic. It’s now far from early, and there are increasing signs that Los Angeles isn’t good enough to compete for a championship.

Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Talen Horton-Tucker #5 Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Talen Horton-Tucker #5 Photo: Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox