INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers have parted ways with coach Frank Vogel, team president Larry Bird announced Thursday.
“Decided it’s time for a new voice around here,” Bird said. “Sometimes my job really sucks. I had time to think about it and watch the team throughout the year. I had higher expectations than most people on how our team should play. I came to a conclusion it’s time for these guys to hear a new voice. Made a decision not to renew [Vogel’s contract].”
In six seasons as Pacers coach, Vogel had a 250-181 regular-season record and 31-30 playoff record, including losing in Game 7 to Toronto this season. Doubts were raised about his job status earlier this week when Bird told the Indianapolis Star that he didn’t want to “leave Frank hanging — there’s other jobs out there he could get.”
Vogel, who worked his way up the ranks from being a video coordinator with the Boston Celtics, took over as interim coach of the Pacers in January 2011 when Jim O’Brien was fired.
Vogel took over a fragile team that was mentally beat up by O’Brien and led them to the playoffs, where they played a competitive first-round series against the top-seeded Chicago Bulls. It was in that series that Vogel instilled confidence in then-rookie Paul George by having him defend Bulls point guard and that year’s league MVP Derrick Rose.
Vogel emphasized a “smashmouth” style of basketball that focused on defense, with center Roy Hibbert anchoring the middle. The Pacers won back-to-back Central Division titles, reached the Eastern Conference Finals in consecutive seasons and had a stretch where they went to the playoffs for four straight seasons after they had missed reaching the postseason in the four seasons prior to Vogel becoming coach
Things started to change for Vogel and the Pacers when George missed all but six games after he broke his leg while training with Team USA in the summer of 2014. Indiana missed the playoffs for the first time under Vogel in 2015.
The Pacers transformed their style of play last season after they traded Hibbert to the Los Angeles Lakers and power forward David West, the backbone of the team, opted out of the final year of his contract to pursue a title with the San Antonio Spurs.
Bird wanted Vogel to play faster, which meant having George play power forward in some stretches this season. The Pacers averaged 102.2 points per game in the regular season, which was 17th in the NBA. They averaged 93.7 per game in the postseason, which put them 12th out of 16 teams