Phil Handy Discusses Relationship With Darvin Ham After Both Started NBA Coaching Careers With Lakers
Phil Handy, Lakers
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Darvin Ham takes on his first head coaching job where he started his NBA coaching career, reuniting with the Los Angeles Lakers almost a decade after he served as the team’s assistant.

Ham worked under Mike Brown and then Mike D’Antoni between 2011-2013 to begin the post-Phil Jackson era, taking from Kobe Bryant’s basketball wisdom to grow as a coach. He joined the Lakers at the same time as Phil Handy — his current assistant — who became L.A.’s development coach in 2011.

Handy says he’s remained in touch with Ham after they went separate ways in 2013. “Yeah, me and D-Ham go way back,” he says. “Obviously, we were here together 2011. It’s just like, we’ve remained brothers the whole time.

“Me and D, we’ve always kept in touch. You know, even when he was in Atlanta, I was in Cleveland. He was in Milwaukee, I was in Toronto, and then here with the Lakers. Man, we’ve always kept in touch in the off seasons, our families have always been close.”

Handy adds he’s excited to work with Ham again and support him in his first head coaching gig. “I’m extremely happy for him,” he says.

“Our journey started at the same time. And just to see him, you know, arrive back here, going full circle where we both started, we’re both here together, man. I’m extremely excited for him as a head coach and I’m excited to be a part of this new journey with him.”

While Ham works on completing the Lakers roster with vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, Handy will take charge of the Lakers in matchups with the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors during the annual California Classic event. New assistant Jordan Ott will then lead the Lakers in the 2022 Summer League in Las Vegas.

Handy says he doesn’t mind relinquishing coaching responsibilities for the Summer League having already done so with the Cleveland Cavaliers a few years ago. The assistant adds he’ll focus on learning coach Ham’s new system during the California Classic.

“Man, I’m just, I’m here, just implementing,” Handy says. “Coach Ham has a new system. As an assistant coach, you know, I’m just trying to learn all the different nuances on both sides of the ball. So this is a great opportunity for me to get comfortable for what we do, offensively and defensively.

“This is just an opportunity for me, like I said, to get more comfortable with the system that Coach Ham is gonna put in for me as a coach to get a head start. So I’m comfortable teaching once we get into the regular season.”

Handy says he’ll be ready for head coaching job whenever opportunity comes up

Handy says he’s patiently waiting for his opportunity to become head coach and that he’ll be ready whenever the chance comes up on the horizon.

“The head coach thing for me is, you know, whatever those opportunities come down the road in the future, I’ll be prepared for it,” Handy says.

“But, you know, I’m an assistant coach right now for the Los Angeles Lakers. So that’s, that’s my responsibility every day, to be the best assistant coach I can be.”

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