Charlotte Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford Stepping Down

Steve Clifford, Hornets, NBA
Mar 25, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reacts in the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 NBA season has been a difficult one for the Charlotte Hornets. They have been among the worst teams in the league with a record of 18-57; only the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons have fewer victories this season.

Heading toward the lottery once again, the Hornets are going to have a busy offseason. Not only will they ben looking to reshape the roster around their young talent in LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller and Mark Williams, they will also be on the search for a new head coach.

According to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is set to step down from his role at the end of the season. He is finalizing a deal to join the team’s front office in some capacity instead.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Steve Clifford & Charlotte Hornets Updates

Clifford let his assistants and the players on the team know of his decision Wednesday morning. Seven more games are remaining in the regular season, which will be the last that he spends on the sidelines with the team as head coach.

Clifford’s job was reportedly not in jeopardy. The team’s new executive vice president of basketball operations, Jeff Peterson, along with co-owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin were willing to bring Clifford back for the 2024-25 season. But, Clifford, who is 62 years old, was not ready to commit to the grind of an NBA season again, according to Wojnarowski’s sources.

This is essentially Clifford doing a solid for the franchise, enabling them to start the head coaching search as early as possible. He didn’t want to jeopardize their chances of bringing in one of the top head coaching candidates.

Per Wojnarowski, “Sources told ESPN that Boston’s Charles Lee, Sacramento’s Jordi Fernandez, Miami’s Chris Quinn, Phoenix’s Kevin Young and others are among the league’s assistant coaching candidates expected to be considered in the Charlotte process.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Steve Clifford & Charlotte Hornets Updates

Along with the Hornets, the Brooklyn Nets and Wizards are expected to join the head coaching carousel this offseason. Both have interim head coaches currently that aren’t expected to remain in those roles full-time.

This was Clifford’s second stint as head coach of the Hornets, as he was picked once Kenny Atkinson backed out of the job after accepting during the 2022 offseason. Overall, he spent seven seasons with this franchise and three with the Orlando Magic, compiling a record of 337-457. He made the NBA Playoffs four times, failing to ever advance beyond the first round.

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