After a long hiatus, the 2019-20 NBA season will resume at the end of July in Orlando, Florida, with the Los Angeles Lakers favored by some to be crowned champions when it is all said and done.

Recently, Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy made an appearance on our Battle for L.A. Podcast with Tomer Azarly, and I. Handy talked about several different topics, including his thoughts on the current squad led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The veteran coach spoke about the team's chances of winning it all once the season gets back underway, especially as a coach that has been to five straight NBA Finals.

“My mindset has always been that I’ve been very blessed to be in the last five Finals,” Phil Handy said. “But if you ask anybody, you ask Bron; there are no guarantees. The only thing we can ask for is the opportunity and the team to be good enough to compete for a championship.

“It felt good to be back together. Me and Bron spent four years together in Cleveland and coming here to L.A. and being a part of [Frank] Vogel’s staff trying to help this team get back to a place of prominence; it’s been a great season.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing with the way things went, but you can only ask for the opportunity to compete for it, and I think we are really pleased that our team responded the way and they competed the way they were. It’s just one of those things that you try to leave it out there every night and yourself the best opportunity you can to hoist that trophy.”

Handy has had experience coaching LeBron with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers. He knows what makes the three-time NBA champion tick and how he changes gears once the playoffs get underway.

The 48-year-old opened up about this Lakers squad before the hiatus and what it's like seeing James kicked it into another gear when the postseason rolls around.

“It’s one of those things, man,” Phil Handy said. “One thing I know about Bron is after the All-Star break, he would really start gearing up for that playoff gear that I was talking to you about. You can see a shift in his demeanor, and once he does that, the team follows. You kind of see that the team was playing well together, playing hard, making improvements.

“Just being a more locked in, a little bit more focused on gameplans and trying to give more of an effort for longer periods of time. I think you just saw a team that’s trying to find a good rhythm. You still have some ups and downs, but they were just trying to find a rhythm of working where we push ourselves to try to be as consistent as possible as we start to prepare for the playoffs.

“It was one of those things where the whole season I felt like those guys were getting better every day, understanding each other, learn how to play with each other. They weren’t perfect. We still had a lot of games where teams really gave us a hard time. But we were trying to find a way to just continue to be consistent and grow on both sides of the ball.”

When the new-look Lakers were constructed by general manager Rob Pelinka last summer following an unexpected and very public departure by Magic Johnson, no one knew exactly what to expected from this revamped team that only have a few players returning.

The acquisition of Anthony Davis was a huge boost for the Lakers, but many believed it would take some time for the superstar newcomer to build some chemistry with LeBron. That didn't turn out to be the case with Los Angeles firing on all cylinders right out of the gate and didn't slow down as they were able to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference with relative ease.

Handy spoke about what makes this Lakers squad special after seeing them put it together quickly while maintaining a high level of play throughout the 63 games played before the hiatus.

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“You’ve got to give it to Rob [Pelinka], the front office, and Jeanie [Buss] for a great job in trying to put the right pieces around and building the right team,” Phil Handy said. “Obviously, Frank has done a great job as the head coach, and giving is the directives and laying out his vision. He does a great job in communicating with the players and keeping them engaged and involved. And really, I just feel like everybody’s moving in the same direction. Everybody was there with the same goal in mind, and that was to compete for a championship.

“There’s a great collection with some younger talent, veteran talent, championship talent. It was just a great mix of everything. [Rajon] Rondo was removed from the Finals for so many years and wants to go back. Avery Bradley wants to compete for a championship. Danny Green has won under his belt. Jared Dudley is a savvy vet that wants to compete. Quinn Cook has championship DNA. Obviously LeBron. AD wants to get to that level. I think the motivation for all the guys on the team is everybody’s just willing to do whatever it takes—JaVale McGee champion. Dwight Howard wants to get there. Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma – everybody is just really in the mindset of, ‘What do we have to do to be successful?’ And we try to move into that space – front office, players, and coaches. Everybody is moving in the same direction.”

The Lakers' chemistry has been uncanny. Davis and James look like they've been playing together for a decade while the role players on the team like Danny Green, JaVale McGee, Avery Bradley, and even Dwight Howard fitting in seamlessly.

Handy admits this is kind of a freak occurrence as it is no easy task to get everyone on the same page as quickly as the Lakers have been able to do this season.

“It doesn’t always happen,” Phil Handy said of team chemistry in the NBA. “And again, even with that, we’re going to have bad days. Even though they click, I think what happened is those guys that they genuinely like each other away from basketball.

“You start with that. I think that’s a great thing when the guys actually like each other. You’re gonna have some moments. You might lose a game or guys may not play as well. In those times, you’re gonna get tested. But what they’ve done is they locked into each other.

“Bron is a great team-first guy. When your best player carries that mentality, it’s infectious and contagious. AD is a great team guy. Rondo is a great team guy. You start talking about all these pieces. We don’t have guys on our team that are anti-team. Those guys, man, you see the camaraderie they have on and off the court, and I think that leads to them not being afraid to hold each other accountable in different scenarios. It’s not something that happens all the time, but it’s about getting the right personalities and the right people to fit into making your team complete.”

With the season only a few weeks from returning to action in Orlando, the Lakers will try to put it together once again for what could be an epic playoff run. LeBron and company can make history by winning the title this year, which would tie the record for the most titles won by an NBA team at 17 matching the arch-rival Boston Celtics.

You can listen to the full podcast on:

Apple: Battle for LA Podcast

Spotify: Battle for LA Podcast

You can follow Tomer Azarly for all your Clippers and NBA news on Twitter and Instagram.

You can follow Ryan Ward for all your Lakers and NBA news on Twitter and Instagram.