The Charlotte Hornets announced late Friday that they have named Steve Clifford to his second stint as the head coach of the team.
Clifford is the second-winningest coach in franchise history, having coached the Hornets and Bobcats from 2013 through the 2018 season. Before spending last season as a consultant for the Brooklyn Nets, Clifford spent the previous three seasons as the coach of the Orlando Magic.
He has a career record of 292-345 in the NBA as a head coach, going 196-214 with the Hornets/Bobcats organization. Clifford is the last coach to take Charlotte to the postseason, reaching the playoffs last in the 2015-16 campaign. Both appearances in the playoffs for Clifford resulted in first-round exits for the team.
“We are pleased to welcome Steve back to our franchise,” said Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak in a statement provided by the club. “We believe that his previous experience and coaching philosophy make him the best coach for our team. Steve has a proven track record of improving defenses and is detail oriented. He has a history of maximizing players’ talent and working with them to develop and expand their skill sets. Steve is committed to playing with the same offensive pace that our fans are accustomed to seeing the last few years. We are confident that he will be able to help our young players continue to grow as we look to take the next step as a team.”
The Clifford hire ends a period of more than eight weeks where the Hornets were without a coach. Charlotte had agreed in principle to hire Golden State Assistant Coach Kenny Atkinson, but he decided to step away from the position after he had agreed in principle to a deal.
“I’m happy to be returning to Charlotte, and I want to thank Michael Jordan, Mitch Kupchak and Buzz Peterson for this opportunity,” said Clifford in a statement from the team. “This is an exciting young team with a lot of talented pieces. Charlotte is a great city and I know first-hand the passion that Hornets fans have for this franchise. I can’t wait to get back to town and start working with our players.”