|After being hired as the interim for Jim O'Brien in the 2010-11 season, Vogel led the Pacers to consecutive playoff appearances with a loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year. They've gotten off to a quick start in 2012-13.|
After a loss at Madison Square Garden on November 18th against the Knicks in which the Pacers only scored 76 points, the Pacers were 4-7 on the young season and looked to be sorely missing their best player, Danny Granger, who is projected to be out a few months due to a knee procedure.
Then, they turned it around almost immediately, winning four of their next five to get back to .500 and would eventually work themselves up to 22-14, where they are now after defeating the Heat on Tuesday.
As with what usually happens, attention turned to the coach, Frank Vogel, who was able to miraculously coax a winning start out of a team that was shaken up a lot this offseason and forced to deal with injury and inconsistency from one of its best players (Roy Hibbert struggled mightily at beginning of year).
Pacers front office went the unusual route of giving Vogel a contract extension, presumably for the bang-up job he has done this season with the Pacers.
Many around the NBA are subscribed to the school of thought that extending a coach immediately after a relatively short stretch of good play is a bad move, potentially leading to complacency, similarly to the effect on players given long-term deals after good performances in contract years. Others think that is the perfect time to give a coach a vote on confidence, set in stone by signatures on a piece of paper.
I, for one, agree with this second train of thought.
Although it is easy to give 100 percent of the credit for a team's success to the players alone, a good portion of it does belong to the coach, who is at the helm of the team's operation and basically says what goes. Frank Vogel deserves a lot of the praise for Indiana turning its season around and certainly warranted an extension, which demonstrated the organization's faith in him.
Specific terms of the deal were not released, but for however long the extension is good for, that is how long the Pacers players can hold the belief in that they will be led by the same coach, a mark of stability that is crucial for any winning team. How often does a team win a championship with a coach that has been with them for less than three years (I'm talking for the most part folks)?
Answer: Not that often.
What does that mean? It means that having a uniform voice at the head of the operation is key for consistent contention in the fluid state of the NBA, a league that is always changing and tends to be radically different from year to year.
Overall, I soundly approve of the affirmative action take by Pacers' management to show confidence in their coach and the current state of the team.
Confidence breeds more confidence and more confidence breeds more team chemistry which lends itself to better play and more wins. Even if the extension was a little premature, the point it makes is the same and will probably be as effective and beneficial for the team.
Good, smart move Pacers, that's how you build a winner.