Q&A: Frank Vogel on Lakers’ roster, Dwight Howard’s role, plus more

Some great excerpts from Steve Aschburner’s great interview of Frank Vogel:

SA: I feel bad for the guys like former Pacers center Roy Hibbert and Greg Monroe (NBA big man who’ll be playing in China), the low-block bangers who’ve been rendered all but obsolete in today’s game. It’s really become a dinosaur thing of adapt-or-die, hasn’t it?

FV: I still think there’s a place for centers and big men in this league. The thing that’s gone away more than anything are lineups with two bigs. The non-shooting power forwards. Those are the guys I feel have suffered even more than the centers. They have become “fives” – but in turn, sometimes they’re just better basketball players than the [pure] fives. So that’s kind of pushing things too.

SA: We all know now that long 2-point shots are “bad.” Where you do you stand on long 3-pointers? Do the analytics support taking those shots?

FV: I call them “4-pointers.” You have guys with 3-point range and guys with 4-point range. You used to have to chart when you were preparing for a team how a guy shoots at the arc and how a guy shoots from the corner. Now you have to chart corner, arc and how they shoot from 4-point range. Maybe you want to give some guys those shots. But some guys – Steph [Curry], Dame [Lillard] – shoot a very high percentage from that range, so you have to treat them like it’s a corner three.

SA: You faced big expectations before, especially in Indiana. But what you’re looking at now in L.A. are enormous expectations, coming from tradition, from passion and maybe from an impatience that’s unrealistic. Are you prepared for that?

FV: We have the pieces to compete for a championship. To have expectations that it’s all going to come together immediately might be reaching a little bit. I’m sure we’ll have some bumps in the road. But hopefully as these guys gel … we have a number of guys with terrific resumes, but they have to learn each other. And they’ll have to learn each other quickly. Then we’ll be in the mix for the regular season and positioning ourselves for a playoff run. You just never know how quickly that process is going to play out. So hopefully, whatever the regular season looks like, by the time you get into the playoffs you’re gelling at the right time and playing your best basketball.

SA: This might be more of a training camp question, but is it important to determine whether Davis plays power forward or center?

FV: It is, in this regard: To me, he’s effective in both positions. But I don’t think it’s wise when your mindset is to be at your best going into the playoffs, to have him banging with centers for 82 games full-time. Does that mean he’s never going to do it in the regular season? No, of course he’s going to play some center in the regular season. But we want to make sure we keep the end goal in sight and getting him to April, for that playoff run, the right way.

SA: Where is Dwight Howard at physically and mentally? Do you have a sense for what he wants to accomplish now and for his legacy with however much longer he hopes to play?

FV: I think he’s excited about this opportunity with the Lakers. It’s very different from the first time he came through. Then, he was a mega-star coming in with two other mega-stars [Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash]. This time around, he’s had a few teams where they haven’t had great success. And he’s at a different point, age-wise, in his career. So he’s excited just to be part of something, in any way he can help. He knows it’s going to be more of a role player type of role.

SA: And that’s acceptable to him?

FV: It’s definitely acceptable. He’s excited about it. And he has the ability to be one of the best at it in the league. He’s going to be concentrating on that. I’ll be defining what we’ll expecting of him, in terms of defending and rebounding and screen-setting and lob-catching and all those things. He’s willing to accept any role that I lay out in front of him. We’ve had a great start to our relationship. He’s in a great place mentally.

SA: What do you like about your coaching staff?

FV: Everything. We really have it all. We’ve got great experience in Jason [Kidd] and Lionel [Hollins]. They had terrific head coaching stints. Both played at a high level and won championships. Jason obviously was a Hall of Fame player and his pass-first mindset carried over to his coaching. That will be a big part of what we do with our group. First we’ve got to be a team, despite the great talent that we have.

And then we’ve got other guys with a wealth of credentials behind that. Phil Handy being in five straight Finals and having an established relationship with LeBron, to help me put him in the right positions to succeed. Mike Penberthy comes in as one of the best skills or shooting coaches, respected league-wide, and has a relationship with AD from the Pelicans the last couple years. He can help me put Anthony in great positions as well.

Miles Simon has been great in terms of bridging the gap with this transition, and is a great young coach. And then we’ve got my guy Quinton Crawford from Orlando who was my head video guy. He has an immense coaching talent – he cut his teeth the same way I did.