Phil Handy could be joining Nets coaching staff: Report

Phil Handy
Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets coaching staff is going to have a different look with the expected departures of two assistants, but one name is already floating around as a possible replacement for one. 

Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy is a possible candidate to join the staff in Brooklyn, according to NBA insider Marc Stein. Handy would be able to fill the void on the developmental side that was left by Adam Harrington, who won’t return next season after spending the past six seasons as director of development for the Nets. 

Harrington and assistant David Vanterpool will not be back next year, according to Stein, and Amar’e Stoudemire announced on ESPN that he would not be returning either. 

The report comes in the wake of the Lakers’ hiring of Darvin Ham as head coach and questions about what will happen to the existing coaching staff in LA. 

“Will the Lakers keep highly rated developmental coach Phil Handy,” Stein wrote. “Or is Handy potentially Brooklyn-bound? The Nets have a need on the developmental side in the wake of Adam Harrington’s expected departure and Handy, remember, has a strong working history with Nets guard Kyrie Irving from their Cleveland days. If the Nets are bringing Irving back, having Handy on the staff to forge a stronger connection with him would be, well, handy.”

With just about every offseason move that will be made, Irving’s future with the team will be a contributing factor to any decision going forward. The Nets and Irving have to decide where they see things going for the two sides. 

Rumors have continued to swirl about the Nets’ hesitancy over giving Irving a long-term contract or even his short-term future. The Brooklyn superstar has a player option for the upcoming season, which he is likely to opt out of in order to get an extension. 

However, the possibility remains that he could go elsewhere as well. A report from SNY last week indicated that the Nets would be open to a sign-and-trade if Irving opted out of his contract. 

If he does stay, then Handy’s relationship with Irving could be a big plus to help make the star comfortable in Brooklyn.

“Obviously me and Kyrie spent four years together in Cleveland, tremendous growth for him,” Handy told the New York Post in 2019. “When I got to Cleveland, he was still a young kid just trying to figure it out. I was able to help him learn how to be a pro, and our relationship went way further than basketball.

“Off the court, we spent a lot of time together. We were neighbors. We lived two or three doors from each other, so it was a lot of growing and maturing.”

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Handy was a coach on the Cleveland staff from  2016 to 2019 and won NBA titles in 2016 with the Cavaliers, 2019 with the Toronto Raptors and 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers.