Just a little less than two weeks ago, it was reported that Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was on the hot seat. An article by Bill Oram and and Sam Amick of The Athletic stated that Vogel’s job was in “serious jeopardy”. Had Vogel been fired, the consensus was assistant coach David Fizdale would be the interim head coach.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Fizdale likely would not have gotten the interim job.
“I was told — sources told me at that time, if there was going to be an interim coach to take over, I think a lot of people probably would assume it was going to be David Fizdale, but I had a lot of people telling me that it would have been Phil Handy to take over as interim head coach at that time.”
It's an interesting quote since many believe that Fizdale was handpicked by the Lakers front office, not Vogel, to join LA's staff so the organization would have a head coach waiting in the wings if they decided to move on from Vogel.
Fizdale has does have head coaching experience. He’s coached 205 games in the NBA between the Memphis Grizzlies and the New York Knicks. The passionate coach is also the author of one of the best playoff postgame press conference quotes of the last few years - “Take that for data”.
Fizdale temporarily served as the Lakers head coach this year when Vogel was placed in health and safety protocols in December. The Lakers went 1-5 with Fizdale on the sidelines.
In regards to Handy, Haynes explained why he might be considered over Fizdale to take over the Lakers sidelines had Vogel been axed.
“[He’s] one of the best developmental coaches in the league, if not the best, one of the best. X’s and O’s guy. Great relationships with star players throughout the league.” Haynes co-host Vincent Goodwill added, “ he doesn’t b———- guys”.
Handy has been an assistant coach since 2015. Prior to joining the Lakers in 2019, Handy spent three years in Cleveland and one year in Toronto.
However, Haynes doesn’t believe Vogel will be dismissed by LA this season. Haynes thinks the Lakers will let him “finish out the season”, despite their continued struggles this year.
Things can change quickly in the NBA. If the Lakers continue to pile up losses, with or without LeBron James, Vogel could be back on the chopping block.
If the Lakers move on from Vogel, it might be Handy, not Fizdale, that takes the reins in LA.