Phil Handy could join Nets coaching staff: report

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

Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy is a possible candidate to join the Brooklyn staff, according to NBA Insider Marc Stein. Handy would be able to fill the void in the development side left by Adam Harrington, who will not be returning next season after spending the past six seasons as the Nets’ director of development.

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

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

“Will the Lakers keep highly regarded developmental coach Phil Handy,” Stein wrote. “Or is Handy potentially connected to Brooklyn? The Nets are in need of development following the expected departure of Adam Harrington and Handy, remember, has a solid history of working with Nets guard Kyrie Irving since their days in Cleveland. If the Nets bring Irving back, having Handy on the team to forge a stronger connection with him would be, well, handy.

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

Rumors continued to swirl about the Nets’ reluctance to give 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 secure an extension.

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

If he stays, Handy’s relationship with Irving could be a big plus in helping the star feel comfortable in Brooklyn.

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

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

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Handy coached Cleveland’s staff from 2016-2019 and won NBA titles in 2016 with the Cavaliers, 2019 with the Toronto Raptors and 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers.