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Lakers Rumor Roundup: Phil Handy not being considered as coach; latest LeBron, AD and Kyrie trade rumors

It sounds like the Lakers won’t be trading LeBron James or Anthony Davis, but considered a Kyrie Irving deal at midseason. Plus, the latest on Phil Handy and the team’s coaching search.

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2020 NBA Finals - Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

As the Lakers continue to search for their next head coach and figure out how to rebuild their roster, there are going to be a lot of rumors about what the front office will consider on both fronts.

Both topics are the subjects of today’s rumors roundup.

The Lakers are not considering LeBron James, Anthony Davis trades

File this one under “no duh,” but despite suggestions from prominent media figures like Stephen A. Smith and Bill Plaschke, the Lakers are not going to entertain LeBron James and Anthony Davis trades this summer.

On Thursday, there were multiple reports that the team wouldn’t consider trading James — even if he doesn’t sign an extension in August — and it would seem that protection extends to Davis as well.

No, not even for Kyrie Irving, as Kendrick Perkins suggested on Friday morning.

On The Athletic’s “The Forum Club” podcast, Lakers reporters Bill Oram and Jovan Buha were the latest to discuss the whispers that general manager Rob Pelinka only has a year to fix this team before he is in danger of being fired, and in the process of doing so, Oram made it clear that the team is not even internally discussing trade possibilities featuring either of their stars (emphasis mine):

Buha: “I do think Rob is safe for at least this next season, but if they can’t turn this around and they have a similar season, I do think there’s a chance they move on.”

Oram: “I would just kind of second what you’re saying there. It can’t be another disaster. And Jeanie Buss is watching closely. This is a really complicated situation for Pelinka to navigate. Especially when there is (external) chatter about ‘oh, should the Lakers trade AD or LeBron to start to rebuild assets and get some players back and get out of this salary cap pickle that they’re in?’ And everything I’ve been told is that the Lakers are not entertaining those options. So your options for building the team are really limited and it really makes it harder for Rob to maneuver.”

That does make things more difficult, and the Lakers will surely assess all their options, but the idea that they were ever going to trade either James or Davis at the lowest their value has ever been was always laughable.

However, that doesn’t mean this front office doesn’t have some wild trade ideas, because...

The Lakers discussed a Kyrie Irving trade

Yes, and apparently they even did so before Big Perk fired off the idea on Friday. Because according to Ian Begley of SNY, the team did have talks about Irving with the Nets while Irving was away from the team because of his choice not to comply with New York’s previously stringent COVID-19 vaccine mandate (emphasis mine):

Several outlets, including SNY, reported that the Nets had been open to talking to teams about potential Irving trades during that time. Obviously, nothing came to fruition. But some members of the Lakers organization discussed the possibility of trading for Irving during that stretch of the season, sources say.

The deal would have obviously reunited Irving with LeBron James. It’s unclear if the Lakers reached any internal consensus on Irving at the time. And it doesn’t really matter at this point. Given where Brooklyn is at the moment, it would be surprising if the club didn’t sign Irving to a multi-year extension/new contract this summer as it continues to pursue a title.

Now, what were the Lakers offering? It’s fair to guess it was probably a package centered around Russell Westbrook, a deal that — hilariously — would require the Nets to add salary if they wanted to reunite the former All-Star with his Thunder Buddies Kevin Durant and James Harden. So even if Los Angeles was dangling their 2027 first-rounder attached to Westbrook, it’s not hard to guess why that deal didn’t get done.

And if the Lakers are really not interested in trading Davis this summer, it’s hard to see a pathway to a deal now for Irving now, either, no matter how often the takesmith industrial complex pushes it at us. But no one can accuse Pelinka of not at least doing the same level of due diligence on wild star trades as the most annoying guy in your fantasy league.

That’s gotta count for something, right?

Phil Handy may not be a candidate for the Lakers head coaching job

So far, the Lakers have been connected to 12 candidates for their open head coaching job, and publicly requested permission to interview two of them.

Neither of those groups includes Phil Handy, who is still listed as an assistant coach on the team’s official website, and made headlines this week by saying he’s “ready to be a head coach” as the organization that has employed him the last three seasons goes through its own very public coaching search.

According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, that may not be set to change, as he reported on the aforementioned “Forum Club” episode that Handy is not a name he’s heard that the team is considering in their search (emphasis mine):

“Phil Handy has been an assistant with the Lakers for the last three seasons, and obviously has had tons of success as an assistant coach, has a long history with LeBron James and has interviewed for head coaching jobs in the past, in Washington a year ago. Not a name I’ve heard, though, in terms of internally the Lakers looking at Phil Handy.

“Whether that’s because of an overall reset on the coaching staff, or because he doesn’t bring exactly what they’re looking for, hard to say. But I mean obviously (he is) revered as a skills coach in the NBA and this job requires a whole lot of managerial skills, which I think Phil Handy actually does have some of in terms of having the respect of the players, but like you were talking about Jovan, the tactical side of things is going to be so key, especially as the Lakers are probably going to have to get creative again, because it’s going to be difficult to build this roster top to bottom with real, comprehensive depth... So I don’t know if Phil Handy is a guy that you’re going to see in the late stages of this coaching search.”

Oram is well-sourced within the Lakers, but this is still a little surprising to hear, because despite the lack of buzz around his name so far, Handy was reportedly the person the Lakers would have named their interim coach if they had fired Frank Vogel at midseason. I had sort of assumed he’d at least be an option now that they actually have dismissed him.

In hindsight, however, maybe them not axing Vogel then indicated a lack of confidence in Handy’s readiness to lead the team. But still, while they’re obviously familiar with what he brings to the table after employing him for nearly two calendar years, it would still be strange for him to not even get an interview as the team casts a wide net while looking for their next leader on the bench. Maybe that will change, but it certainly sounds like even if it does, we shouldn’t expect Handy to get the job as things stand right now.

If that means the end of his second stint in Los Angeles if he (understandably) doesn’t want to work for a new head coach and would prefer to choose his next boss, it would be an unfortunate ending to what started out as a storybook homecoming to the place where Handy got his first NBA coaching job.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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