Hornets Fire Steve Clifford

The Hornets have relieved head coach Steve Clifford of his duties, the team announced today (via Twitter). Clifford had been scheduled to meet this morning with new Hornets president and GM Mitch Kupchak, and he and his staff had been expecting this move, per Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Clifford, who was hired by Charlotte in 2013, had been the NBA’s seventh-longest-tenured head coach. He led the franchise to a 196-214 record (.478) during his five years on the sidelines. The Hornets earned playoff berths twice during those five years, but were eliminated in the first round in both 2014 and 2016.

Since the regular season ended on Wednesday, three head coaches of Eastern lottery teams have been dismissed, with Clifford’s firing coming on the heels of the Knicks and Magic parting ways with Jeff Hornacek and Frank Vogel, respectively.

In each instance, a new management team has been installed within the last year, and those front offices will now have the opportunity to hand-pick their own head coaches. In Charlotte, Kupchak was formally hired just days ago, so finding a new coach will be his first major task with the franchise. It’s not yet clear what the list of candidates may look like for the Hornets.

Clifford stepped away from the Hornets for a little over a month earlier this season for health reasons. However, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Clifford has “fully recovered” from the headaches and insomnia that forced him to take a leave of absence.

Despite his rough year in Charlotte, Clifford remains well regarded in coaching circles, and it may not take him much time to find a new job elsewhere. As Mannix notes, there’s a chance that both Clifford and lead assistant Stephen Silas will be in the mix for head coaching openings this spring.

In addition to the Hornets, Knicks, and Magic, the Suns, Bucks, and Grizzlies are also expected to conduct head coaching searches this spring — those three teams currently have interim coaches in place.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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12 thoughts on “Hornets Fire Steve Clifford

  1. hiflew

    If the Hornets simply went away, how long would it take for the majority of fans to notice?

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    • Dionis

      They are pretty noticeable to me, they just need an identity.

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  2. Dionis

    Good riddance, you buried Monk on the bench all season and also have Bacon no playing time either. Wish you well Steve and I hope you get healthier but this team needs a new coach, the Hornets had no business missing the playoffs with Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard playing the way they did this season. That was the first good move you made Mitch.

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      • Dionis

        I think Sam Mitchell should be given a look, he’s a player’s coach and I feel he could build a good relationship with Monk,Kemba, and Dwight.

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        • Sam Mitchell is a retread. Been there done that.

          I wonder whatever happened to Monty Williams. He left New Orleans when his wife tragically died and hasn’t been given another shot?

          I like guys that came up through winning organizations. Spurs guys. Look at Brett Brown, Sixers, came from the Spurs right? Steve Kerr Spurs and Phil Jackson.

          Forget about Jason Kidd or Jeff hornacek or Jerry Stackhouse or other random guys who “need to be giving a shot.” We don’t have time for shots.

          We need winners properly groomed and trained in winning organizations.

          If you’re fortunate enough to pluck a Brad Stevens or Quin Snyder, then more power to ya. Got lucky.

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          • Dionis

            I think the next Quyn Snyder might be Jay Wright but he wants to stay in Villanova. Walker is already having thoughts about his future so Mitch and the staff will have to work hard this summer to keep him in a Hornets uniform.

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            • It’s such a crap shoot with hiring coaches. What it really comes down to is the Players. Heck even Doc Rivers can win one championship in his 20 years as coach

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              • Dionis

                I highly disagree. Only a really good coach like Stevens can have Baynes score 26 points and haul down 14 rebounds. Coaching is really important in basketball.

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  3. acarneglia

    Clifford had a great run in Charlotte, but it was time for a change. He was second all time in wins in franchise history, helped get the team to the Playoffs twice. He will definitely get another job in the NBA, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him head to NY. Wish him nothing but the best moving forward.

    With Cliff gone Dwight Howard will more than likely be move imo. Clifford was the Dwight Whisperer and was a huge part of his success. Ultimately though Dwight’s age and contract make him likely to move from Charlottes point of view.

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    • x%sure

      Maybe Clifford & Howard will be packaged to Milwaukee! In theory Howard could be traded for Henson and Delledova.
      For the Bucks, Howard’s salary comes off the books a year earlier (expiring), he might keep Giannis interested, and he has a big-time aura the Bucks could use to get next-level.
      For the Hornets, Henson has good plus numbers and is reasonably priced, while Delladova might help a new administration get the right kind of attitude established, with assists/TOV = 3x.
      The Bucks could throw in a little more. I think it’s safe to move Thon Maker, though that tips the scales the other way.

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