Assistant coach Phil Handy has long been considered as one of the main architects of the Los Angeles Lakers’ success last year.
Handy returned to L.A. after a six-year break, joining head coach Frank Vogel’s staff in 2019. He brought in championship pedigree having won the title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and Toronto Raptors in 2019, each time securing the franchises’ first-ever NBA triumph.
Handy continued his winning spree last year when the Lakers claimed the Larry O’Brien trophy for the 17th time in Vogel’s staff’s first season together. Alex Caruso proved invaluable for L.A. during the rough playoff run in the Orlando bubble, orchestrating the defense and adding firepower outside the 3-point line after registering a meteoric rise to stardom at Staples Center.
And the former South Bay Lakers star credited Handy, a retired guard with international experience, for his development. “Phil is a former player himself, so he’s relatable,” Caruso said. “He understands the mental aspect about what guys are going through. He’s played basketball before, he knows what it’s like out on the court.”
During his first stint with the Lakers, Handy worked as a player development coach, looking after the team’s stars including Kobe Bryant, Paul Gasol and Derek Fisher. Some of the best NBA players have used his guidance including LeBron James, even before reuniting at Staples Center, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.
Caruso said Handy has offered him unique mentorship and advice, unlike any other coach he’s worked with. “The stuff he teaches us if stuff I hadn’t learned from anybody else,” he said. “Just ways to set up ball screens, different skill development drills. I just enjoy being around him.
“That’s one of those things that really make it a great job is we do a great job of the front office here is we put together a team of high-character guys, high-character coaches. Support staff that are important to the players, important to the team. It just makes it easy when you show up and guys have energy or people like Phil have your best interest in mind.”
Kidd rumored to gain interest from Trail Blazers
Vogel’s other assistant, Jason Kidd, has similarly received high praise from members of the Lakers organization for his work and impact over the last year. It resulted in numerous speculations over his future; a number of front offices reportedly considering him as a candidate for their coaching vacancies before and during the current season.
Most recently, the Portland Trail Blazers are believed to have shown interest in Kidd’s services. The Blazers are reportedly planning to part ways with head coach Terry Stotts after the end of the season.
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