When Frank Vogel was hired by the Phoenix Suns, one of the big questions about how it would affect the Lakers was whether or not he would try to lure his former assistant coach Phil Handy to join his staff in the desert.
We don’t know if Vogel actually attempted to do that, but most NBA teams won’t let assistant coaches under contract depart for a lateral move, only for a promotion. And during a trip to the Philippines to host a skills clinic in the city of Manila, Handy revealed that he is still under contract with the Lakers for at least two more years after signing a previously unreported three-year extension last summer when Darvin Ham came aboard.
Our very own Nicole Ganglani is on the ground at the camp, and has the video for us:
.@naveenganglani asked if Handy is considering joining Frank Vogel’s staff in Phoenix.— Nicole Ganglani (@nicoleganglani) June 19, 2023
Handy: “Don’t believe everything you read. I’m under contract with the Lakers for the next two seasons. When Darvin came on, I signed a three-year extension. So I’m in Laker land baby.” pic.twitter.com/I6WE578gdI
Given that Vogel has recruited basically his entire final Lakers staff to Phoenix — with returning assistant Kevin Young in Handy’s place — whether or not he would have tried to lure Handy was a legitimate question to wonder about.
But once Young was given the lead assistant title and made the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA, it always seemed unlikely that Handy would depart for what would have been a lateral move at best. With the news that he is actually on a multi-year deal and not year-to-year as many assistants are, him staying with the Lakers at that point should have been considered a formality.
That’s great news for anyone rooting for Los Angeles, as Handy has long been regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the NBA, and has been lauded for his work at helping even the best players in the world get better, with the Lakers most recently seeing his abilities reflected in the growth of Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. Handy had plenty of positive things to say about both in Manila:
More on Rui: "He’s a really talented young basketball player but more than anything, he’s a great young man so I’m looking forward to hopefully continuing to build a relationship with him in the future and hopefully get him back in the Laker uniform.”— Nicole Ganglani (@nicoleganglani) June 19, 2023
More Handy on Reaves: "He was really a big part of our success this past season as we made a Playoff run. I’m happy for the kid, he’s really put in the work and like what we always say, if you put the work in, you’ll always reap the benefits. He’s got a bright future.”— Nicole Ganglani (@nicoleganglani) June 19, 2023
And with the Lakers widely expected to retain both players, and Handy remaining in Los Angeles for at least the next season (and maybe until he gets the head coaching chance he desires), we may just see both young guys continue their respective upwards trajectories under Handy in purple and gold next season.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.