Phil Handy

Three Lakers Assistants Won’t Be Retained; Phil Handy To Stay

12:58pm: The Lakers will keep Phil Handy, who is considered one of the league’s best assistant coaches, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Handy accepted Ham’s offer to remain with the team.


11:56am: As Darvin Ham begins to build his coaching staff with the Lakers, assistants David Fizdale, Mike Penberthy and John Lucas III have been told that they won’t return next season, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Ham has talked to several potential candidates about joining him in L.A. and that process is expected to continue for weeks, adds ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). A report Monday indicated that Rasheed Wallace is among the names being considered.

Fizdale, a longtime assistant and a former head coach with the Grizzlies and Knicks, joined the Lakers last season. He has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Quin Snyder in Utah.

Lucas was also in his first year with the team, while Penberthy joined Frank Vogel‘s staff when he was hired in 2019 and was promoted to a front-of-the-bench role last offseason.

Stein’s Latest: Pinson, Boban, Hornets, Connelly, Handy

The Mavericks are “determined” to find space on their roster for Theo Pinson next season, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. Pinson appeared in just 19 regular season games in 2021/22 and wasn’t eligible to play in the postseason, but the Mavs view the 26-year-old wing as an important part of the team dynamic in Dallas, Stein explains, noting that center Boban Marjanovic falls into this category too.

Marjanovic has a $3.5MM contract for next season, so the Mavericks will have no problem keeping him around if they want to, but Pinson’s two-way deal is set to expire, making him an unrestricted free agent. Since he’ll have four years of NBA service under his belt, Pinson will no longer be eligible to sign a two-way contract in 2022/23 — he’d have to get a standard contract and be part of the 15-man roster if the Mavs want to retain him.

Pinson was viewed as the unofficial ring leader of the Mavs’ bench mob that earned the team $175K in fines during the playoffs due to its “bench decorum” violations.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • With Darvin Ham off the board, it’s unclear which head coaching candidate is the frontrunner for the Hornets‘ job. However, Stein says there was some “fresh buzz” over the weekend that if Mike D’Antoni is hired by Charlotte, he could bring former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen along with him as an assistant. Stein reported a couple weeks ago that D’Antoni was in a strong position to land the job, but later cast some doubt on that report.
  • Sources with knowledge of the situation tell Stein that the “equity” aspect of Tim Connelly‘s deal with the Timberwolves has been overstated. Stein’s understanding is that Connelly’s contract includes a bonus based on the value of the franchise increasing during his five-year contract, but he doesn’t actually own a stake in the team.
  • It remains to be seen whether veteran assistant Phil Handy will return to the Lakers under Ham, according to Stein, who believes the Nets could be a fit for Handy if he doesn’t stay in L.A. Handy worked well with Kyrie Irving during their Cleveland days, and the Nets have a need on the player development side following Adam Harrington‘s exit, Stein observes.

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Westbrook, Jackson, Handy

Even if LeBron James decides against signing a contract extension this offseason, the Lakers and team owner Jeanie Buss wouldn’t view that as a reason to consider trading him, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic.

James, whose contract expires after the 2022/23 season, has the ability to tack on two more years (and $97MM) to his current deal when he becomes extension-eligible later this year, but Amick previously reported that the superstar forward may be leaning toward passing on that extension and once again taking a year-to-year approach.

If that’s what James decides, the Lakers would fine with it, as long as their relationship with the 37-year-old remains in a good place, says Amick. Should LeBron become discontented, the team’s approach could change, but if his “level of trust and happiness” with the organization remains high, a trade is off the table.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Frank Vogel‘s inability to get the most out of Russell Westbrook this season was a factor in the Lakers’ decision to fire the head coach, according to Amick, who speculates that the club may be open to hanging onto Westbrook and giving another coach a shot to make the experiment work — especially if the front office can’t find any appealing Westbrook deals on the trade market.
  • Although Phil Jackson is advising the Lakers on their head coaching search and is believed to be a fan of Westbrook’s, he has zero interest in coaching L.A. (or any other team) himself, sources tell Amick.
  • Speaking of Jackson, there are “powerful people close to the Lakers” who don’t love the fact that the Hall-of-Fame coach has input in major decisions despite not having a formal role with the organization, says Amick.
  • Appearing on the “Certified Buckets” podcast, Lakers assistant Phil Handy said he believes he’d be capable of coaching an NBA team, as Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News relays. “I am definitely at that point now to where I know I’m ready to be a head coach,” Handy said. “I’m ready to take on my own team and direct the ship in that fashion.” The Lakers, of course, are in the market for a new head coach, but there has been no indication so far that Handy is receiving serious consideration for the job.

COVID-19 Updates: Bagley III, Davis, Kuzma, Lakers, Raptors, Testing

Following interim head coach Alvin Gentry‘s positive test earlier today, a couple of Kings players have entered the league’s health and safety protocols as well. Marvin Bagley III will miss at least Wednesday’s game after being placed in the protocols, as will Terence Davis, per James Ham of ESPN 1320 and Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Anderson notes that Davis told reporters on Oct. 15 that he had recovered from the virus just before training camp opened.

It’s not clear whether Bagley and/or Davis tested positive, but if they did, they’d have to sit out at least 10 days or return two consecutive negative coronavirus tests at least 24 hours apart before being cleared to exit the protocols.

Here are some more updates relating to COVID-19:

  • Starting power forward Kyle Kuzma will be available for the Wizards Wednesday after returning two negative tests 24 hours apart, Josh Robbins of The Athletic reports (Twitter links). Kuzma attended the team’s shootaround on Wednesday morning.
  • The Lakers have been testing everyone around the team after having three players test positive. Play-by-play announcer Bill Macdonald is asymptomatic and isolating after returning a positive test, per Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group tweets that assistant coach Phil Handy has also entered the protocols. A team spokesperson said that other “staff members” have entered the protocols as well, but did not disclose the number, per Bill Oram of The Athletic (via Twitter).
  • As a result of rising cases in Ontario, the province will be re-instituting limits on fan capacity in large venues. Thus, the Raptors will be limited to 50% fan capacity at Scotiabank Arena, beginning on Saturday vs. Golden State, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced. The Raptors, who are owned by MLSE, will also launch “Operation Mask Up (or out),” which will require all attendees to strictly adhere to all mask-wearing protocols or risk ejection from the building, per the announcement.
  • With cases rising throughout the league, the NBA and NBPA are in talks to increase player testing to include all game and practice days, The Athletic’s Shams Charania writes.

Pacific Notes: Handy, Clippers, Suns, Warriors

Despite some rumors linking him to Brooklyn in recent weeks, Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy suggested this week in a conversation with Jason Dumas of KRON4 News (Twitter link) that he intends to remain with the 2020 NBA champs.

“I am a Los Angeles Laker. What’s next for me is waiting for (Lakers head coach) Frank Vogel to pick up the phone and… give me what my next directives are,” Handy said.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • New Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue is apparently strongly considering former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and current Heat assistant Dan Craig as additions for his bench, per Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets that Atkinson, renowned for his ability to develop young players, could be a fit considering that owner Steve Ballmer is hoping his new coaching staff does just that.
  • Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic assesses the prospects of a 2020/21 Suns squad if the team essentially maintains its 2019/20 roster and rely on internal player growth. Backup center Aron Baynes is the only rotation player entering unrestricted free agency this offseason.
  • As the Warriors look to build at the edges of their roster, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area takes a look at two potential swingman bench fits: sharpshooting Bucks guard Pat Connaughton and hyper-athletic Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr.

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Jazz, Nuggets, Wolves

The Thunder are one of the few teams still searching for a new head coach. Last month, Billy Donovan and Oklahoma City surprisingly parted ways after he reportedly rejected a two-year contract offer from the Thunder.

With Donovan having moved onto Chicago, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman explores the idea of Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy as a potential head-coaching candidate for the Thunder. Mussatto notes that the 49-year-old Handy has a championship pedigree, having gone to the NBA Finals six times. He also looked at Handy’s journey, which includes playing professional basketball and getting his start as a player development coach in 2011.

Along with Handy, Mussatto profiled Spurs assistant Will Hardy as a head coaching option for the Thunder.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune takes a look at who the Jazz might select with the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. As Walden writes, Utah vice president Dennis Lindsey said last month that the team will be looking for a player who brings defensive intensity. Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, Josh Green, and Tyrell Terry are just some of the prospects who may be options for the Jazz at No. 23.
  • In her latest mailbag, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic discusses what the Nuggets might do in free agency. Andrews was asked frequently about Jerami Grant, who played a pivotal role in Denver’s playoff run, an said that re-signing Grant is a top priority for the Nuggets. He could command a deal in the four-year, $64M range.
  • Chris Kine of The Star Tribune examines the next steps for the Timberwolves with the offseason finally here. As things stand, Minnesota has the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, which could both the team a good player and fill a need. However, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas suggested it’s not realistic to address a need in the draft. “Needs have to be addressed in free agency and trades,” Rosas said. “With draft guys it’s a development process. You want it to be right away, but the reality is it’s a two, three, four-year process.” Rosas reiterated that Minnesota is establishing its culture. Meanwhile, Kine argues that the Timberwolves do not have time on their side with both Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell looking to win.

Mike D’Antoni A Candidate To Join Steve Nash’s Staff?

Former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni is a candidate to join Steve Nash‘s new coaching staff with the Nets, a source tells Frank Isola of SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link).

D’Antoni and Nash obviously have an extensive history — Nash played for D’Antoni for four years in Phoenix, earning four consecutive All-Star berths and a pair of MVP awards during that time. The veteran point guard later played for D’Antoni again in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

A source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that D’Antoni and Nash remain “tight.” Berman also refers to D’Antoni as an “X’s and O’s offensive master,” suggesting he’d be a good match for a first-time head coach like Nash, who admitted last month that he was hired more for his relationships and culture-building skills than his tactical acumen.

D’Antoni has been linked to head coaching openings in Indiana and New Orleans and would presumably favor one of those jobs over an assistant position. However, it’s unclear if he’s a finalist for either the Pacers’ or Pelicans’ vacancy.

If he’s willing to accept an assistant role, D’Antoni makes sense as a target for the Nets, given his connection with Nash and the franchise’s deep pockets. Brooklyn made Jacque Vaughn the NBA’s highest-paid assistant, so presumably the team would be amenable to making an aggressive offer for D’Antoni as well.

Isola also mentions Lakers assistant Phil Handy as a possible candidate for Nash’s staff. Handy has previously been identified in multiple reports as a possible target for the Nets.

Nets Notes: Coaching Staff, Arena Workers, J. Smith

It has been five weeks since the Nets hired Steve Nash as their new head coach, but there haven’t been many updates since then on who will be part of Nash’s coaching staff beyond Jacque Vaughn, who is expected to remain in Brooklyn as the associate head coach.

According to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, current Nets assistant Adam Harrington is also likely to be retained, given his connection to Kevin Durant — Harrington briefly served as the Thunder’s shooting coach during Durant’s time in Oklahoma City.

A source tells Schiffer that the Nets had some interest in trying to add former Suns coach Igor Kokoskov as an assistant. However, Kokoskov recently agreed to become the head coach of EuroLeague team Fenerbahce and prefers to remain with his new club in Turkey, per Schiffer.

Schiffer also names Jay Triano, Royal Ivey, and Phil Handy as possible candidates for the Nets’ staff, though Ivey has received interest from multiple teams. As for Handy, Schiffer recently heard from a source that the veteran assistant is happy working on Frank Vogel‘s staff with the Lakers, but would be open to other opportunities.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Nets owner Joseph Tsai intends to pay his Barclays Center employees – who lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic – through the rest of the year, Brian Lewis of The New York Post confirms. The decision, originally reported by The Atlantic Yards Report, may cost Tsai in the neighborhood of $10MM.
  • Maryland power forward Jalen Smith is the No. 20 prospect on ESPN’s big board, which could put him in play for the Nets at No. 19 in this year’s draft. As Lewis relays in a separate story for The New York Post, Smith is intrigued by the idea of being selected by Brooklyn and becoming teammates with a superstar he grew up watching. “Just being able to play with KD, that’s a dream come true,” Smith said. “Obviously growing up watching him so much and pretty much just learning from him, being the same size as him, just being able to get so much from him that he’s done in the league and continue to work and just compete against him would be tremendous and a good thing for me and my skills.”
  • In case you missed it, we previewed the Nets’ upcoming offseason in a feature last week.

Nets Looking For Veteran Assistant Coaches

The Nets will try to add experienced coaches to Steve Nash’s staff, Shams Charania of The Athletic said in an appearance on Stadium (video tweeted by Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily). Charania mentioned ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy and Lakers assistant Phil Handy as two possibilities.

Brooklyn considered Van Gundy as a potential head coach before hiring Nash last week, Charania adds. The 58-year-old hasn’t coached in the NBA since the 2006/07 season with Houston and has built a successful career in television. However, he did lead Team USA at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup tournament and the qualifiers for last year’s World Cup and he may be tempted to join a team that figures to be in title contention when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both healthy next season.

Handy, 49, has been in the league for the past decade, breaking in as a player development coach with the Lakers. He also served as an assistant with the Cavaliers and Raptors before coming back to L.A. when Frank Vogel was hired last summer.

The Nets filled one spot on Nash’s staff when they retained interim coach Jacque Vaughn as lead assistant. Keeping Vaughn was “critical,” according to Charania, who says Vaughn’s relationship with Durant has improved over the past few weeks. He adds that Vaughn likely would have become the head coach if Nash hadn’t agreed to take the job.

Nets Notes: Coaching Staff, KG, Durant, Harris

New Nets head coach Steve Nash and the team’s front office are seeking out assistants to join the former two-time MVP’s coaching staff, including Lakers assistant Phil Handy, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

2019/20 interim Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn will stay on staff as the team’s lead assistant during the 2020/21 season. Nash, an eight-time All-Star, joined the Nets staff last week in a surprising hire.

Here are more notes out of Brooklyn:

  • Former Nets forward (and Hall of Famer) Kevin Garnett, a 15-time All-Star, has said that he believes Brooklyn should look to trade for a high-level scoring wing like Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine or Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal to join current Brooklyn All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, according to Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.
  • Kevin Durant expressed his enthusiasm for new coach Steve Nash‘s addition to the Brooklyn sideline, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “His insight for the game, his communication, how he communicates the game of basketball is definitely going to help me as a player develop and it’s going to help the rest of the team,” Durant said in a new episode of Pelicans swingman J.J. Redick‘s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast.
  • The addition of Nash may help convince Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris to stick around as he enters unrestricted free agency this summer, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I met with him the other day, grabbed a coffee with him and [team president] Sean [Marks],” Harris said during a recent conversation with “The JWilly Show” podcast. “And he just talked about how he felt about me as a player and wanted me to come back and be in Brooklyn.”