Phil Handy opens up about his relationship with Darvin Ham after they both started their NBA coaching careers with the Lakers

Darvin Ham takes his first head coaching job, where he began his NBA coaching career, and rejoins the Los Angeles Lakers almost a decade after serving as the team’s assistant.

Ham worked under Mike Brown and then Mike D’Antoni between 2011 and 2013 to start the post-Phil Jackson era and used Kobe Bryant’s basketball wisdom to grow as a coach. He joined the Lakers at the same time as Phil Handy – his current assistant – who became LA’s development coach in 2011.

Handy says he stayed in touch with Ham after they went their separate ways in 2013. “Yeah, me and D-Ham go back a long time,” he says. “Obviously we were here together in 2011. It’s like we’ve stayed brothers the whole time.

“Me and D, we always kept in touch. You know, even when he was in Atlanta, I was in Cleveland. He was in Milwaukee, I was in Toronto and then here with the Lakers. Man we always kept in touch in the off season, our families were always close.”

Handy adds he’s looking forward to working with Ham again and supporting him in his first stint as head coach. “I’m very happy for him,” he says.

“Our journey started at the same time. And just to see him, you know, come back here, come full circle where we both started, we’re both here together, man. I’m very happy for him as head coach and look forward to being part of this new journey with him.”

While Ham works with Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka to complete the Lakers roster, Handy will lead the Lakers in matchups with the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors during the annual California Classic event. New assistant Jordan Ott will then lead the Lakers to the 2022 Summer League in Las Vegas.

Handy says he doesn’t mind giving up coaching responsibilities for the Summer League, having done so with the Cleveland Cavaliers a few years ago. The assistant adds that during the California Classic his focus will be on learning Coach Ham’s new system.

“Man, I’m just, I’m here, I’m just performing,” says Handy. “Coach Ham has a new system. As an assistant coach, I’m just trying to learn all the different nuances on both sides of the ball. So this is a great opportunity for me to familiarize myself with what we’re doing, offensively and defensively.

“This is just an opportunity for me, as I said, to familiarize myself with the system that Coach Ham will be putting in place for me as a coach to get a head start. So I’m happy to teach once we get into the regular season.”

Handy says he’s ready for the head coaching job whenever the opportunity presents itself

Handy says he’s patiently awaiting his chance to become head coach and will be ready whenever the opportunity appears on the horizon.

“The most important thing for me as a head coach is, you know, whatever opportunities come up in the future, I’m going to be prepared for them,” Handy said.

“But you know, I’m an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers right now. So that’s my daily responsibility to be the best assistant coach I can be.”

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