INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers like where they’re heading and they want Frank Vogel to finish the job.
One day after the team announced it had given Wildwood Crest, N.J., native Vogel a new contract extension, he walked out of Tuesday morning’s shootaround and told reporters he appreciated the message being sent by management.
“It shows what we’re building here, something special,” said Vogel, a Wildwood High School alum. “We’ve turned the corner and we’re going to make some noise the next couple of years.”
The Pacers (20-14) have declined to provide details about the new deal, and Vogel stuck with the company line though he did acknowledge it was a multi-year extension that would keep him in Indianapolis beyond next season.
For the affable 39-year-old Vogel, that was enough of a reward for his accomplishments.
He took over as head coach in January 2011 following the midseason firing of Jim O’Brien, inheriting a struggling team and leading it to the playoffs. The Pacers lost to Chicago in the first round.
That summer, Vogel had to deal with the NBA lockout and weeks of speculation about whether he’d stay in Indy or land someplace else. But team executive Larry Bird decided to make Vogel the permanent coach, and Vogel rewarded the Pacers brass by leading the team to a second straight playoff appearance and their first playoff series win since 2005. In the Eastern Conference semifinals, Indiana lost to Miami.
This year has been rough for another reason: the loss of All-Star forward Danny Granger, who has not played yet because of patellar tendinosis in his left knee.
The decision to extend Vogel’s deal came just as Indiana was preparing to host Miami, the Southeast Division champ, for the first time this season. Indiana won 87-77. Coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat know the Pacers are a physical team.
That’s just Vogel’s style.
“I don’t know if I’ve changed a whole lot to be honest with you,” Vogel said. “I know I have to be firm with the guys and that I need to have a strong coach-player relationship. This is not a dictatorship that I’ve been running.”