After abruptly firing their former head coach Frank Vogel at the end of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers hired their new head coach Darvin Ham who was most recently an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks. With Ham now at the helm for the Lakers, he will get to build a coaching staff of his choosing, which means a slew of the Lakers assistant coaches from last season could be on the way out the door.
The most notable Lakers assistant coach who could be on the move is Phil Handy, who has won three championships as an assistant coach since 2016. NBA Insider Marc Stein says that if Handy indeed is on the way out of Los Angeles, the Brooklyn Nets could be a possible landing spot for the decorated assistant.
“Great curiosity is already bubbling in coaching circles about the sort of staff Ham will assemble with the Lakers. Two primary questions: Will Ham indeed have the autonomy to make all the choices and will be David Fizdale be retained? And another: Will the Lakers keep highly rated developmental coach Phil Handy,” Stein writes per his Substack account.
“Or is Handy potentially Brooklyn-bound? The Nets have a need on the developmental side in the wake of Adam Harrington’s expected departure and Handy, remember, has a strong working history with Nets guard Kyrie Irving from their Cleveland days. If the Nets are bringing Irving back, having Handy on the staff to forge a stronger connection with him would be, well, Handy.”
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Nets Had Interest in Handy Before Hiring Steve Nash
When Nets head coach Steve Nash got hired to replace former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, the decision to do so was a bit of a head-scratcher for a lot of people in the basketball community. Nash had been a consultant with the Golden State Warriors. He was there when Durant won the only two titles of his career in 2017 and 2018. But still, he had no coaching experience, and other available candidates on the Nets’ radar did.
One of those candidates was Handy. According to Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports, the Nets had significant interest in making him their head coach before they ultimately hired Nash.
“Nets were interested in Phil Handy as an assistant coach when Steve Nash took the Nets head coaching job….let’s just say that it didn’t go as planned,” Scoop B said per his Twitter account on April 27.
Handy Has Close Relationship With Kyrie Irving
Handy was Kyrie Irving’s assistant coach on the Cleveland Cavaliers when they won the NBA title in 2016. The Lakers assistant built a close relationship with Kyrie during his time in Cleveland and says that Irving has always been private. He previously compared his personality to that of Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard.
“Ky is one of those dudes that is very private. He’s very private, and his circle is very small and he’s not a guy that really extends himself a lot to people that he doesn’t know. Kind of like Kawhi,” Handy told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports in September 2021.
“Until you actually get to know Kyrie, you’re going to get a lot of speculation. He’s going to say some stuff and certain things, but people don’t understand maybe what’s the context behind it or where he’s coming from.”
The Nets have already suffered significant losses in their coaching staff with Amare Stoudemire and Adam Harrington parting ways with the franchise. Handy could be the answer to fill that void.