Hornets Coach Steve Clifford Informs Players He’s Stepping Down After Season

The Second Act of Steve Clifford as coach of the Charlotte Hornets will indeed come to an end after the season, according to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.Steve Clifford and LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets, NBA

The Hornets (18-57 entering Wednesday) have been beset by injuries to key players, as well as youth and the decision to trade away starter Terry Rozier for a draft pick.

New GM Jeff Peterson was hired from the Nets in February, and many believed that was the beginning of the end for Clifford in his second run with the Hornets. Most GMs want to bring in their own coach and sources told Hoops Wire they suspected Peterson would do the same.

That said, this appears to be Clifford’s decision.

“Clifford, who informed his assistants and players of the news Wednesday morning, will coach the Hornets’ final seven games beginning Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers,” Wojnarowski wrote. 

Sources told Wojnarowski that Peterson was open to bringing back Clifford, but that the coach has had enough of the 82-game grind of a season. So Clifford, 62, may be done coaching in the NBA altogether. Or perhaps he just needs a break.

Clifford coached the Hornets from 2013-18, and then the Orlando Magic for three years, before returning to Charlotte. As of Wednesday, Clifford sported a record of just 45-112 in his two seasons back.

Several league sources have told Hoops Wire last week they hadn’t heard anything about Clifford’s status beyond this season. One said he wouldn’t be surprised if Clifford is let go, considering the new GM is there. Another said he hopes Clifford gets another season because he’s a good coach and a fantastic person.

It sounds as if Clifford was getting every opportunity to return, or at least that the Hornets were open to the idea. But he made the decision for them.

Looking for the latest NBA Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow Hoops Wire on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NBA News and Rumors for all 30 teams!

Leave a Reply