Hornets coach Steve Clifford to step down as overhaul continues after Michael Jordan's departure


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Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford is stepping down after the season and attempting to finalize a new role with the team’s front office, the team announced Wednesday. Clifford, who took over before the 2022-23 season, informed his assistants and players of the plan Wednesday morning and will coach the team for its final seven regular-season games.

The change is just the latest in what has become a complete overhaul of the Hornets organization over the past year or so. Those changes began when Michael Jordan sold the team to Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin. The new owners hired former Nets executive Jeff Peterson as their new head of basketball operations, and now Peterson will in turn be able to find the team’s next head coach.

Clifford’s head coaching career began in 2013, when he took over in Charlotte for the first time. He last five seasons before getting fired and taking over the Orlando Magic. After three years in Orlando, Clifford took a year off before accepting a second crack at the Hornets job. This time, however, his young team just couldn’t stay healthy for him. Former All-Star LaMelo Ball played just 58 games across Clifford’s two seasons in Charlotte, and the Hornets will find themselves in the lottery for the eighth consecutive season.

The Hornets were reportedly willing to let Clifford return and coach the team next season, but he ultimately wasn’t prepared to commit to another season-long grind. By stepping down early, he is giving the Hornets a head start on their search for a new coach. In 10 seasons as an NBA head coach, Clifford has gone 337-457.

The search for Clifford’s replacement will reportedly center around several of the league’s most promising first-time coaching candidates. Those include Jordi Fernandez of the Sacramento Kings, Charles Lee of the Boston Celtics, Chris Quinn of the Miami Heat, and Kevin Young of the Phoenix Suns. With a young roster that is set to add another high draft pick in June, a first-time coaching candidate makes plenty of sense for the Hornets.





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