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Steve Clifford once again named head coach of Charlotte Hornets – NBA Blog

Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today the team has named Steve Clifford head coach. Clifford, who previously served the team’s head coach from 2013-2018, returns to Charlotte, where his 196 wins ranks second in franchise history, sitting just 11 behind Allan Bristow.

“We are pleased to welcome Steve back to our franchise,” said Kupchak. “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.”

Clifford has more than 20 years of NBA coaching experience and more than 35 years overall, including eight seasons as a head coach with the Hornets (2013-2018) and Orlando Magic (2018-2021). He spent the 2021-22 season as a consultant for the Brooklyn Nets and Head Coach Steve Nash. Clifford has a career record of 292-345 as a head coach, including a 196-214 mark in his previous five seasons in Charlotte. His teams have made the playoffs in four of his eight seasons and finished in the top 10 in both points allowed and defensive rating on five occasions.

“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. “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.”

In Clifford’s first season in Charlotte in 2013-14, the team went 43-39, a 22-win improvement over the previous season, and finished fourth in points allowed and fifth in defensive rating after ranking 29th and 30th, respectively, one season earlier. In 2015-16, he led the Hornets to a 48-34 record and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, posting the franchise’s best record since 1999-2000.

Clifford also helped turn around the Hornets’ offense during his first run in Charlotte. After ranking in the NBA’s bottom 10 in both points per game and offensive rating in his first two seasons, the team improved to ninth in offensive rating and 11th in points per game in 2015-16. That season the Hornets were one of only four teams to finish in the top 12 in points per game, offensive rating, points per game allowed and defensive rating. The Hornets remained in the top half of the league in both offensive categories for each of Clifford’s final two seasons, increasing their scoring average by 14.0 points per game and their offensive rating by 9.3 from 2014-15 to 2017-18.

In his first season in Orlando in 2018-19, the Magic posted a 42-40 record, a 17-win improvement over the previous season, and ranked fifth in points allowed and eighth in defensive rating after ranking 21st and 18th, respectively, in 2017-18.

Prior to becoming an NBA head coach, Clifford spent 13 seasons as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks (2000-2003), Houston Rockets (2003-2007), Orlando Magic (2007-2012) and Los Angeles Lakers (2012-13). From 2003-2013, his teams made the playoffs in nine of 10 seasons, including five straight playoff appearances, three straight Southeast Division titles and a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals during his tenure with the Magic alongside Stan Van Gundy. Additionally, Clifford spent 15 years coaching at the collegiate level before joining the New York Knicks.

Author: Inside Hoops has been a world leader in NBA basketball coverage for over 20 years. Read our blog, but also be sure to read our main website on

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