Over the past few years, one of the biggest criticisms of the Los Angeles Lakers was that their coaching staff wasn’t up to par, from the top of the bench to the end of it. Now, it seems like every team in the NBA wants a piece of their assistant coaches.
Not only has Jason Kidd been tied to just about every vacant head coaching position around the association, but now his fellow Lakers assistant, Phil Handy, is also reportedly being pursued by another team.
The Nets are pursuing multiple assistant candidates for head coach Steve Nash’s staff, including Lakers assistant Phil Handy, sources said. Jacque Vaughn will serve as the lead assistant on the staff.
Vogel was asked to comment on that report at practice on Friday. Here is what he had to say about letting assistants interview elsewhere, and Handy’s value:
“It’s case-by-case, and it’s really just like the rest of the league. If any of our assistants have an opportunity to have an advancement opportunity, then we typically would grant permission. But it would be case-by-case, and I don’t know anything about the situation you mentioned. But Phil Handy brings great experience to our team. He’s been in the Finals the last five years, and obviously has great experience and background working with LeBron, does a great job with our whole group in player development, and has been an integral part of our success this year.”
Handy got his start in the NBA with the Lakers in 2011 as an assistant coach for Mike Brown. Handy stayed in role for the entirety of the 2012-13 season despite the fact that Brown was let go. During that time, he worked with Nash, as well as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Its also safe to assume Handy and Nash have crossed paths over the years because of the team’s they’ve worked for. Nash was hired by the Golden State Warriors as a part-time player development coach in 2015. During that time, the Warriors played the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals three times and the Toronto Raptors once. Handy was on the opposing side for all four of those series.
For that same reason, Handy has a relationship with Kyrie Irving, who signed a four-year, $141 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets last summer. Irving credits Handy for taking his game to the next level while he was in Cleveland, and has also said he has a special relationship with Handy off the court.
The dots aren’t hard to connect. The question is whether or not Handy would leave the Lakers after just one season to start anew with the Nets, who have more questions than answers going into the 2020-21 season. That’s especially true now that they’ve hired a first-time head coach.
Lakers fans should be hoping the answer to that question is no, especially since Handy will have at least one new prospect to work with in the offseason when the NBA Draft comes around, but it will ultimately be up to Handy and the team. We’ll see what they figure out.