Phil Handy has an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time, a skill he demonstrated yet again last NBA season in Toronto.
The former Hawaii men’s basketball guard and two-time NBA champion as an assistant coach is leaving for Los Angeles, where his career took off as a player development coach with the Lakers back in 2011-13. The move was first reported by Marc J. Spears of ESPN and The Undefeated.
The Lakers, who feature superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are viewed as a contender to emerge from a crowded Western Conference in 2019-20.
Handy is being hired as a bench coach — meaning he’ll be in the front row, courtside, on Frank Vogel’s new staff that also includes Jason Kidd. It’s a marked step up for a coach who’s made a name for himself as a player whisperer working with the likes of Kobe Bryant, James, Pau Gasol, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.
Handy has been to five straight NBA Finals, a feat few have attained. One who has is James, who was with Handy for four of those Finals in Cleveland, including the 2016 championship. They will reunite in a much different setting.
Handy did a farewell post to the reigning champion Raptors early Monday morning on Instagram.
“Words cannot express my gratitude to the @raptors organization, the city of #toronto #canada and some of the best fans in the world!” he wrote in part.
View this post on Instagram
Honestly the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my professional career in the last 48hrs. Words cannot express my gratitude to the @raptors organization, the city of #toronto #canada and some of the best fans in the world! It was hard to leave this city and team after the historical season we had. Sometimes professional sports can be unforgiving in things that happen. I will never forget the love that you all showed me the moment I became a #raptor … I will never forget bringing #larryobrien back to #the6ix and I will never forget how #canada showed up for that parade! WE ARE #NBACHAMPS FOR LIFE. This next chapter for me is about professional growth and an opportunity to further my career by becoming a bench coach with the @lakers … never easy to move from a #comfortable place but I always say “be comfortable being uncomfortable”… Thank you TORONTO for making me one of yours! #wethechamps #wethenorth #wemadehistory #thejourneycontinues
Handy’s move was greeted with widespread support.
Raptors guard Norman Powell replied, “Family Always OG” under Handy’s post.