Frank Vogel introduced as Magic coach, clarifies what went down with the Pacers

Frank Vogel was 250-181 in five and a half seasons as Pacers head coach.

Frank Vogel was 250-181 in five and a half seasons as Pacers head coach.

19 days after he was informed by Larry Bird that he would not be brought back as Indiana Pacers head coach, Frank Vogel was officially introduced as the 13th head coach in Orlando Magic franchise history.

Vogel, a successful young coach, talked with several teams who had openings over the last few weeks but the Magic moved quickly to bring him aboard. It is a great fit for him — a similar market with young and developing players.

And did I mention no state income tax?

Plus, joining another blue team means he can still wear many of his same ties.

Prior to being introduced on Monday afternoon, Vogel called into ESPN’s Mike & Mike to discuss the NBA Playoffs and his new head-coaching gig.

[Last postseason: Frank Vogel in Bristol talking NBA Finals on ESPN Networks]

Of course the Pacers came up.

Mike & Mike: With the Pacers, did it completely catch you off guard? Were you completely surprised by this?

Vogel: Not entirely. I was a little bit surprised. I had felt like we had gotten through, sort of a transition period with our franchise, with the Pacers. From the standpoint of Paul George missing the entire year with the injury and knowing his first year back was still going to be an adjustment period for him and Myles Turner being his rookie year and changing our style of play, we felt like it was going to be a transition year. I felt like we managed it pretty well and made a good run at Toronto as a seventh seed.

But, at the end of the day, you don’t know what the direction of the franchise is going to be. I was in the last year of my contract, so all year I did have the understanding that this could happen. You have to respect Larry Bird and the Pacers franchise for making a tough call, but doing what they feel is right.

Mike & MikeWe were a little taken aback, when Larry Bird said, basically the shelf life of a coach, I’m paraphrasing now, is three years in the NBA. We know that’s how long he coached in Indiana. Did he say that to you?

Vogel: He didn’t say three years, but he did say that at a certain point in time changing the voice of the head coach is good for an organization. He felt like this was the right time for the Pacers. It’s natural, it’s not anything that’s really indicting of me or the job that I did, but he has always felt that that type of change can be good for a franchise.

Again, Larry’s been terrific to me, gave me the opportunity of a lifetime six years ago. The Simon family was wonderful to me. I have nothing but positive feelings about the Pacers.

Mike & MikeThere was a feeling around the league anyway, that he wanted to play a more up-tempo offensive style and perhaps he felt like that isn’t what you wanted to coach. Did you ever talk to him about the style you were playing, the changes he was interested in making, was that part of the discussion?

Vogel: No, that’s a misconception about this whole deal. Larry and I have been very well aligned all the way through these six years, including the decision to try and play faster and smaller. This is not something I was resistant to.

It’s a style of play that I am going to try and implement with the Orlando Magic. We’re going to try and get up and down and run the floor. There was a lot made when this all came out about Larry vs. Frank and their differences, but really throughout the whole process we were very well aligned. It was just a matter of a feeling that a change in the voice of the head coach could give the franchise a boost. It wasn’t about a difference of opinion or a difference in philosophy; it was really just about change.

[Paul George thanks Frank Vogel, calls him ‘one of the most influential men’ in his life]


Read highlights from Vogel’s introductory press conference below. (Transcription via OrlandoMagic.com.)

General Manager Rob Hennigan on hiring Vogel…

We feel very, very fortunate and lucky that a man of Frank’s character and coaching caliber happened to be available as we were looking for a new head coach. We are excited about Frank, we feel that he fits our team to a ‘T.’ We feel the things that he is about as a human being fit our organization. And we really feel good about everything Frank will be able to bring to this community and organization. Frank’s track record speaks for itself, as far as we are concerned. He is someone who has built a team of defense, first and foremost. He has shown over the years that he is someone that is able to mold and cultivate players, two very important things to us as we started this search.

Frank Vogel’s opening statement…

Thanks, Rob. Thank you to the DeVos family, Alex Martins and Rob Hennigan for this great opportunity to be the head coach of the Orlando Magic. This team and organization has a great reputation. I have been an admirer and have great respect for what they have accomplished in the past and what they represent as a franchise.

As the process played out, it became very clear to me early that this is the perfect place for me to continue my basketball journey. As I look at the overall situation, it also became clear that it is the right landing spot for my family. We are very excited to be here. The city of Orlando has so much to offer. My family and I are very much looking forward to calling ourselves Floridians.

I want to commend Rob for putting together a heck of a roster. You have a lot of talent at a high character. That was one of the biggest attractions to this job for me, and wanting to take this job with the young core that he has put together. I think it is a core that will also be attractive to prospective free agents thinking about coming to play for our team.

The future is bright for this group. In my mind this team is ready, ready to take the next step. We’ve got a great young core. We have the cap flexibly to add a key veteran or two … or three. And I think our fans should be really excited and have real reason to believe that we are at the beginning of what should be a great era in Magic basketball.

We are going to play a similar type of play that we did at Indiana. We will have a defensive identity, which worked for us, but we will also play a style offensively where we adapt to the way today’s NBA game is played on the offensive end. We are going to play with pace. We are going to take advantage of the athleticism that we have on this roster, run the floor. We are also going to space the way that a lot of these teams are playing in today’s NBA. We are going to win. And we are going to have fun winning. I am excited about this group.

On specific Magic players currently on roster…

I like all of them. They’re my guys now. I like Evan Fournier, in the back of the room there. Victor [Oladipo], who was in the building, working out when I got here today. I joked with Victor that we never really spent a whole lot of time together, maybe it is the Indiana connection or whatever, but we would always kind of make eye contact during games. I feel like I have known him for 20 years. We have good chemistry.

I believe in Elfrid [Payton]. I believe in playing with defensive length, which he brings to the table. So establishing our defensive identity, he will be a part of.

Mario is a guy I was a big fan of at the draft last year. He wasn’t available when we chose, but he is a guy that I am excited about what he can become. I love his confidence. I love his athleticism, his ability to shoot the ball. He fits the way we want to play.

Vooch [Nikola Vucevic] is a monster inside. He kills us every time that he played. You can go on and on, down the roster, there is a lot to be excited about with this group. I am excited to get started.

On what may lure free agents to Orlando…

The biggest thing that free agents want to hear is ‘are they going to win?’ I believe they are going to win here. We’ve had some success at Indiana, making over a team at a similar point in their development that this team is at right now. We just need one or two veterans to come in, to help us get over the hump.

But the number one thing that a free agent wants to hear is ‘are they going to win?’ and the pieces are in place here. We have had regular season success at Indiana, and we have had postseason success in Indiana, with the young core that we have here, I believe that we can take the big step with the right free agents.

On his offensive philosophy…

Every style is dictated by the personnel you have on your roster. We had some teams that were built around size and strength, so you have to play to that strength, play to that style of play. We did pick it up, from a play standpoint, dramatically this past season because we changed our personnel a little bit. There was more a desire to do so.

I have a great desire to play up and down, great desire. I feel like we have the athleticism and youth to achieve that, right away. As these guys grow they will get better year after year, but it is predicated on your personnel.

On why the Magic job made sense for him…

Everything about this job was appealing to me, starting with the ownership. I’ve got a lot of coaching friends in the business, in basketball and in other sports, that really when you talk about choosing jobs, you want to make sure that you have a strong ownership group and the reputation of the DeVos family is as good as it goods. So it starts there.

I think after that you have to look at the interpersonal communications and relationships you’re going to have with your front office, the people you’re going to work with. And Rob and I, from the minute we picked up the phone with each other, I felt like we had a great connection.

We have similar backgrounds; we both played Division III, we both lived in Boston around the same time. And we have similar leadership styles. We rely on the group to give great input. We know we don’t know it all. We make group decisions, and we study and we work. And we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We have sort of a ‘have fun but work our butts off’ type of mindset. From the ownership down to the front office, things looked good.

The roster, as we talked about before was very, very attractive to me. Very attractive to me. I really see a lot of similarities to this team that I saw in the team we took over in Indiana with Lance Stephenson, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert. You know, still trying to find our way to get over that hump and became a monster in the East and I see that similarity there.

I wanted to make sure my family was comfortable. My wife and I grew up in the Northeast but my daughters are sort of small-town girls, from the Midwest. And the similar market size here in Orlando, than what we had in Indiana, was very attractive to us as well.

The weather, state taxes, Disney World. Those were probably at the bottom of the list but all still factors. You basically can check off every box, with the pros and cons you’re weighing, with this job versus other teams and I just think this is a great, great fit for me.

On how quickly he expects success to come…

If we don’t get a ring then it’s a failure. That’s the only way to look at this. Again, we don’t take ourselves too seriously here.

We’re gonna win. It’s that simple. We’re going to go out, we’re going to work our tails off, we’re going to instill discipline, we’re going to inspire our guys. We’re going to develop our young players, we’re going to develop our veteran players into being better veterans and we’re going to win games.

Obviously this group hasn’t been to the playoffs so, if you want to look for a bar of where we’re going to set the standard on our goals, we’re going to get into the playoffs this year. We’re going to start there, but more importantly to me, we’ve got to build something that we know can win in the playoffs. It’s not just about getting there, it’s about building the level of offensive sharing and passing, building the defensive toughness where you’re going to defend and rebound and it’s going to be hard to score against our team. So, that when you get into the playoffs you have a reasonable expectation that you’re going to succeed in the playoffs.

On confidence in that he was philosophically aligned and temperamentally aligned with Hennigan…

I believe so. You know, it was one of those things that just my confidence level picked up speed as the process went along, comfortable in the first 15 minutes. Then once we’re an hour into it, really excited. Then once we got two hours into it, feeling like this is the spot for me. It was that quick and accelerated. So, we did talk about everything you can talk about in terms of what our relationship is going to look like, the direction of team, the style of play, how we execute practices, all those types of things.

On his timetable to hire a staff…

The coaching staff is something that is going to take some time to put together. I don’t expect to have a big staff. But we’re going to sit together, discuss all the names that I’m interested in, gather some of his names, and like everything we’re going to do going forward, it will be a group effort, and we’ll choose the people that put us in the best position to have success.

But one the thing I would say is that the coaching staff, to me is, the chemistry of your staff is just as important as the chemistry of your team. So, as we add guys, we will add the next two or three guys to complement that first selection.

On what things have been like since Larry Bird moved on

It’s been a really crazy time, to be honest with you. Probably the craziest two weeks of my life. Just from the emotions of being let go by the Pacers to just figuring out what our next step was.

The phone was ringing, so that was a good thing. It was a good kind of chaos. There was interest. I enjoyed meeting with some of the other teams that I met with.

Ultimately, finding this situation here, with everything aligning to the ways or the things that I was looking for, for my family, for my career, that part made it a joyful time, as opposed to a stressful time, knowing that the opportunity to have a job like this as one of the options, and let’s go for that one more than the rest, and then getting it, was a very exciting thing for me. We’re excited to be down here.

Watch the full press conference in the videos below:

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