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Steve Clifford has agreed to change into head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, returning for a second profession on the job, the workforce introduced Friday.
Clifford, who led the franchise to 2 playoff appearances in a five-year profession that led to 2018, returns after Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson modified his thoughts about taking the Charlotte job and determined to remain. with the Warriors.
Clifford at all times had a powerful working relationship with Hornets proprietor Michael Jordan, and he match the profile of what Jordan and basic supervisor Mitch Kupchak wished for this younger, creating roster: a coach who may enhance them defensively and remodel them right into a playoff workforce. Clifford is nicely regarded amongst his fellow coaches and is revered for maximizing the expertise on his rosters in each Charlotte and Orlando.
“We consider his prior expertise and training philosophy make him the perfect coach on our workforce,” Kupchak mentioned in an announcement. “Steve has a confirmed observe file of enhancing defenses and is detail-oriented. He has a observe file of maximizing participant expertise and dealing with gamers to develop and develop their ability units. Steve is dedicated to enjoying the identical tempo offensively that our followers have grown accustomed to seeing lately. We’re assured that he’ll have the ability to assist our younger gamers proceed to develop as we glance to take the following step as a workforce.”
Clifford met with property and administration in latest days and shortly gained momentum in his bid to return, sources mentioned.
The Hornets additionally strongly thought-about Mike D’Antoni, who lately met with Jordan, sources mentioned.
Clifford, lengthy thought-about probably the greatest defensive coaches within the NBA, shall be tasked with enhancing that facet of the ground for a Charlotte workforce that has completed within the backside 10 NBA groups in defensive score in three of the final 4 seasons, together with twenty third place in 2021-22.
In his 5 seasons with the Hornets, Charlotte’s protection ranked inside the highest 10 3 times. His defenses completed eighth and eleventh in two of his three seasons as Magic coach.
Charlotte completed final season with the eighth-ranked offense within the NBA, and it has numerous firepower on that facet of the ground between All-Star guard LaMelo Ball, restricted free-agent ahead Miles Bridges, guard Terry Rozier and ahead Gordon Hayward, amongst others.
“That is an thrilling younger workforce with numerous proficient items,” Clifford mentioned. “Charlotte is a good metropolis and I do know firsthand the eagerness Hornets followers have for this franchise. I am unable to wait to get again to the town and begin working with our gamers.”
The assembly between Clifford and the Hornets comes after the workforce reached an preliminary settlement with Atkinson to exchange James Borrego, who was fired in April after 4 seasons.
Clifford, 60, went 196-214 in 5 seasons throughout his first stint with the franchise, which noticed him lead the Hornets to their greatest file since returning to the NBA in 2004 as an enlargement workforce after they went . 48-34 in 2016. The Hornets misplaced within the first spherical of the playoffs to the Miami Warmth in seven video games that yr.
He led Charlotte to 2 of its three playoff appearances within the 18 seasons since returning to the league. Clifford’s 196 wins are second in franchise historical past behind Allan Bristow, who coached the workforce within the early and mid-Nineties. Clifford is tied with Bristow for probably the most video games coached in franchise historical past. franchise.
After Clifford was fired by Charlotte in 2018, he was employed just a few weeks later by the Magic, whom he coached for 3 years, together with back-to-back playoff appearances in his first two seasons, earlier than each side agreed to half methods. after a 21-61 marketing campaign in 2020-21. He spent final season in a consulting function for Steve Nash with the Brooklyn Nets.
Clifford started his profession teaching at varied Northeastern universities, then served as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Magic and Los Angeles Lakers earlier than being employed by the Hornets in 2013 for his first head teaching job. . .
Clifford agreeing to teach the Hornets leaves one workforce, the Utah Jazz, with no head coach for subsequent season after coach Quin Snyder determined to stroll away from the workforce earlier this month.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.
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