Assistant Coach Phil Handy has been with the Los Angeles Lakers since 2019. Before that, Handy was an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and was in player development for the Lakers from 2011-2013.
Handy was recently speaking to Brandon "Scoop B" Robinson from Bally Sports, and had some great things to say about the Lakers 2021-22 season.
The inevitable came up of course, about the Lakers age and possibly being too old to compete for a title.
"I think that’s just a misconception of the non-basketball heads. I call them non-basketball heads because anybody that thinks that we’re old and washed, doesn’t really know much about the game. Basketball has kind of moved to a lot of younger talent; a younger generation, but we got some WISE players on this team. They know their bodies, they know what they can do, they know where they are in their careers and I mean, they can call us washed – we’ll take that but, I think that they’re all ready to go to build their chemistry together."
Coach Handy has also been very impressed by the hunger of Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony to win an NBA championship.
"I don’t know if I was surprised by anything Scoop. Those dudes – Russ and ‘Melo... I mean, those dudes are Hall of Famers and you don’t become a Hall of Famer in your career without being a pro. So I’m not surprised at anything because I’ve had the chance to coach some very high level players in my career and I think that the common denominator between all of those athletes is that they are supreme workers. They work on their craft, they work on their bodies, and they’re all coachable in the sense that they want to be great and they want to be at the highest level that they can be at."
As for other new guys, he spoke about a 'not so new guy' in the return of Dwight Howard. He says Howard's presence was sorely missed last season.
"His physical presence is just... unmatched. Dwight is a physical dude. Not only in his appearance but he IS physical! [laughs] in the way he plays; And that’s one thing that we kind of missed last year was that vertical presence. Him and JaVale [McGee] we missed both of those guys, man."
Speaking of big men. When the Lakers acquired DeAndre Jordan via trade, a lot of Laker fans were concerned about Jordan. Last season Jordan had moments where his legs did not look the same, and obviously going into his 15th season, there is some natural wear and tear on him. Coach Handy did not seem overly concerned, and showed confidence in Jordan's on the court leadership.
"I don’t think people recognize that DJ is one of those guys that’s ALWAYS talking. He’s directing the defense and as a big, I think that’s invaluable. You have a big that’s using his voice like that, we’re excited with what he brings – his size, his presence and again he fits that mold of what JaVale was."
There is a lot in this interview (head over to Ballysports or to Scoop B's twitter page to see more) that had a lot of insight into the Lakers, including Coach Handy's assurance in LeBron James' work ethic and skill.
"I think he cares about continuing to prove people wrong more than anything. I don’t think it’s not so much being the best player, but I think it’s the noise and the haters and the talk I think that it fuels him to continue to show people that – I use the term ‘ageless’ and people are throwing around numbers man, but the dude is AGELESS. He takes care of himself, he works extremely hard and he puts in the time to keep himself playing at a high level so, I just think that the noise outside of our team and outside of his own personal camp; I think that ‘noise’ drives him to be great every day."
To see what Coach Handy thinks of Coach Frank Vogel and his style, check out this clip! You can also check out the full interview from this link.
It is clear the Los Angeles Lakers are lucky to have such a ton of talent on the coaching staff as well as on their roster. Coach Handy could eventually see the helm of his own team someday, but until then the Lakers are lucky to have him.