Phil Handy on leaving the Raptors: “It was really tough. I really fell in love with Toronto”

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On the latest episode of The Lake Lake Show podcast, Lakers Assistant Coach Phil Handy spoke about his off-season decision to leave the Toronto Raptors.

After winning the 2019 NBA Championship, Handy opted to rejoin the Lakers. Of whom he was a player development coach with between 2011-13. The 48-year-old described the decision as being “really tough” and whilst he said it wasn’t an easy decision, Handy also mentioned that “it was the best decision of my career, at that point”. The move put him to the front of the bench, which was essentially a promotion for him.

“It was really tough. I really fell in love with Toronto in a short amount of time. You know, winning a championship, it obviously helped. But the city of Toronto is a great city. The organization is first-class. Me and Nick Nurse, obviously we got history going back to our UK days. I built a bond with a lot of the players. Regardless of Kawhi leaving or not, that was a tough decision for me because I felt like Toronto still had a lot of talent and they were going to surprise a lot of people. Just like they’ve done this year and how they’ve competed. It wasn’t an easy decision but I think it was the best decision for my career, at that point.”

Handy went into further detail, stating that moving back to the West coach moved him closer to his family. Before emphasizing that the decision made sense for his career moving forward.

“To be able to come back to the West coast, which is where I’m from. I have a son here. It puts me closer to my family a little bit. Then it was a move to the front of the bench for me. Which is a stepping-stone in my career. Although those things were there, a lot of positives, it was a tough decision for me to get up and leave Toronto to come back to Los Angeles.”

Phil Handy was part of a huge reshuffle in the Lakers’ coaching set-up last summer. Which saw Frank Vogel come in as Head Coach. Jason Kidd, Lionel Hollins, Miles Simon, Mike Penberthy, and Quinton Crawford, all arrived as assistant coaches. The new set-up has helped the Lakers shoot up to the top of the Western Conference with a record of 49-14, being led by superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Check out the full episode of Phil Handy on The Lake Lake Show below. Additional topics include his first spell with the Lakers (2011-13), LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, and much more.