Phil Handy, the player developmental coach for the Los Angeles Lakers since the 2011-12 season, has received permission to interview with the Cleveland Cavaliers for a position on head coach Mike Brown’s coaching staff according to Mark Medina of InsideSoCal.com. Handy, who spent time at St. Mary’s College training players in the offseason, was hired by Brown initially after hearing positive feedback from mutual friend Randy Bennett. He has worked with players with tremendous footwork skills such as Kobe Bryant, multiple shots in their arsenal like Pau Gasol and upper body strength like Metta World Peace. If granted the job, Handy would provide at least one day of hands-on assistance to his players throughout the course of a week and has been praised as a great worker to have on any head coach’s staff. He first got his start working with guys such as Tony Delk, Eddie House, Shawn Marion and Penny Hardaway, but would he work well with the young core that is the Cavaliers roster?
In his short time in Los Angeles, Handy has spent many sessions with NBA stars and legends. Sometimes his work will only be supplementary, such as with already established players like Kobe. But for a specimen like “The Basketball Player Formerly Known as Ron Artest,” molding techniques with a physically gifted small forward may require more hands-on work. Because of these different experiences, Handy would fit well in working with the mix of youngsters on the Wine and Gold roster. Because he studies techniques so avidly, his work doing that and operating with Kobe – a player with great foot form – would make him more than ready to take on a player like Kyrie Irving. We all know how deadly Irving’s crossover can be (someone page Brandon Knight), but think of the possibilities if it became second nature. That’s what player developmental assistants are for. More importantly, Handy could give some pointers to Irving on how to position the body when going up against opposing offences and how to properly defend a player’s weak side to shut them down. Irving could use one-on-one work with a coach that Mike Brown has trusted before, and Brown knows that Handy would put defense at the top of the list of things to work on.
Handy’s work with Pau Gasol could also be of great help to players such as Anderson Varejao. Before he clocked out for the rest of the season after only playing 25 games, Andy was developing a nice 20-foot jump shot. This added weapon helped Andy’s blazing shooting percentage to start off the season and also propelled him to 16 double-doubles and an average of 14.4 rebounds. Making Andy more comfortable with putting up shots outside of the paint will most certainly give opponents something else to fear when going up against a player with a motor like Andy. However, his help with Pau will prove more important when working with Tristan Thompson. As the season progressed, Thompson’s ability to position his body and switch his hands when banging bodies in the paint got better and better. He became a lefty just as much as a righty. Thompson was incredibly effective in the paint, shooting 63.0 percent at the rim. This percentage put him second to last (just in front of Zach Randolph) among power forwards who averaged more than 30 minutes this season, but only an elite group of 14 PFs could say that they played that much in this league. This was also by far Thompson’s best area shooting. He will only get better as time goes on, and helping Thompson seamlessly add more weapons into his arsenal is part of his mission. He helped Pau with his problem with being double-teamed, as this is something that Thompson is most of the time down low when he takes time to set up. Building his confidence and teaching him where the double team is coming from will only help the team as a whole run smoother if Handy is chosen.
Metta World Peace is a physically gifted athlete, but when Handy first joined Brown in Los Angeles the high-tempered small forward was out of shape. Helping him work on his balance was the first step in getting Metta to regain trust in his jump shot. With so many question marks at SF for the Cavaliers, Handy will have his hands full with whomever Cleveland decides to start in the three slot. That depends a lot on where the Cavs will land in the draft order. Otto Porter’s lank and length would be a great asset for Handy to morph into defensive weapons, but Alonzo Gee is a player that just doesn’t have what it takes to be a starter. Regardless, improving Gee’s form while dribbling will definitely be a task on Handy’s list if Brown chooses him to join his coaching staff.
So as we continue to look at possible candidates for Mike Brown’s staff, the third name that we have heard mentioned seems like a good fit for the situation he would be inheriting. John Kuester’s return to work with Brown would be a good pickup too, but would Jamahl Mosley coming back as a defensive assistant bode well for Brown’s game plan? Find out by coming back to Right Down Euclid later this week.