Apr 29, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers player development coach Phil Handy works with Filippo Messina the son of coach Ettore Messina (not pictured) before game one in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers Coaches Profile: Phil Handy


This is the last in a series of profiles on the members of Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown’s coaching staff. Today Right Down Euclid sheds some light on new Director of Player Development Phil Handy.

Every coach on an NBA staff has a specific role. Some focus on offense, defense,or player development. Some focus on preparing their team for upcoming opponents or work with either front or backcourt players. While most coaches have an area of specialty, others switch roles many times over the course of their careers. Phil Handy, the Cleveland Cavaliers new Director of Player Development is an expert in the very skill outlined in his title.

Phil Handy first became noticed in the basketball world as a player for the University of Hawaii, where he was WAC All-Defensive Player of the Year. Following his collegiate career, Handy signed as an undrafted free agent with the Golden State Warriors and spent parts of his first two professional seasons with the Warriors and Portland Trailblazers. Handy then played overseas for the next eight years, spending time in Italy, France, England Germany, Italy and Australia.

Following the end of his playing career, Handy founded 94 Feet of Game, which focused on working with players of all levels on their individual skills and ran team clinics all over the world. Some of Handy’s initial clients included Penny Hardaway, Shawn Marion, Eddie House and Tony Delk. He has also worked with Anthony Randolph, Hilton Armstrong and Blake Griffin. Handy worked in this role for 12 years before his move to the NBA coaching ranks.

Handy first moved to the NBA in 2011 as a member of then Los Angles Lakers coach Mike Brown’s coaching staff.  Brown and Handy first met through St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett, a friend of both men. In an outstanding interview on the Lakers’ team website, Handy goes into detail on his role with the team and what he brings to the table.  Handy was a member of the Lakers coaching staff under both Brown and Mike D’Antoni, earning the respect of both coaches for his work ethic and his ability to develop players. Handy was retained by the Lakers after last season, but moved to the Cavaliers as Mike Brown’s first coaching hire after the Cavaliers were given permission by the Lakers to interview and then hire him.

Despite numerous roster changes this offseason, the Cavaliers are still a young team with multiple players who are still very early in their NBA growth. Having an experienced player development coach who can work with players of all positions is a must for a team in the stage this Cavaliers team is at. The further development of players such as Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson, and even Kyrie Irving, is one of the largest ingredients for the Cavaliers making a playoff push this season, and Phil Handy will play a critical role in the development of each of those players.

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