Magic Hire Steve Clifford As Head Coach

The Magic are hiring Steve Clifford to be their new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. League sources tell Wojnarowski that Orlando has reached an agreement on a four-year contract with the former Hornets coach. Meanwhile, the team has confirmed the deal in a press release.

According to Wojnarowski, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman views Clifford as the right combination of “tactical coach, teacher, and disciplinarian for a young, developing roster.” Clifford met with a team ownership group on Tuesday and is expected to be officially introduced at a press conference on Wednesday, Woj adds.

[RELATED: Five Key Offseason Questions: Orlando Magic]

Widely respected in coaching circles, Clifford led the Hornets to a 196-214 (.478) record over five years, including back-to-back 36-46 seasons before he was dismissed last month. Prior to taking over as head coach of the Hornets, Clifford held a number of NBA assistant jobs, including one in Orlando from 2007 to 2012 under Stan Van Gundy, so this is a reunion of sorts for him.

Clifford, who was let go by Charlotte at season’s end, expressed a desire to coach again next season and interviewed for the Suns’ and Bucks’ jobs before they hired Igor Kokoskov and Mike Budenholzer, respectively.

The former Hornets head coach missed 21 games last season due to sleep deprivation and severe headaches, but Wojnarowski indicates that Clifford is in good health now, and Orlando’s doctors are confident that he’s ready to resume the “full-time grind.”

Having assumed control of Orlando’s front office in 2017, Weltman and GM John Hammond are looking to put their own stamp on the organization after firing Frank Vogel at the end of the regular season. According to Wojnarowski, Weltman and Hammond had interest in hiring Clifford five years ago when both executives were members of the Bucks’ front office. However, he landed with the Hornets instead at that time.

No team’s coaching search this spring has lasted longer than the Magic’s, as the club spent nearly seven weeks seeking out Vogel’s replacement. The franchise will bet on Clifford being a long-term solution on its bench after having gone through four other head coaches since Van Gundy’s departure in 2012.

The Magic didn’t publicly confirm which candidates they were interviewing for their head coaching vacancy during their lengthy search. However, University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool, and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka were among the contenders who reportedly interviewed for the position. Orlando also met with David Fizdale before he was hired by the Knicks.

The Pistons and Raptors are now the only two teams still on the lookout for new head coaches, as our tracker shows.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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19 thoughts on “Magic Hire Steve Clifford As Head Coach

  1. D-NBA

    I don’t know how I feel about this, Steve never recognized Monk till the end of the season. Hopefully he learned that he needs to have a looser leash with young players as he is inheriting a young roster.

      • D-NBA

        Or maybe you are underrating him. He’s already a better ball handler than Klay and quicker with the ball. His off the catch game can become elite, and isolation scoring is something he can improve on. He’s going to be able to play the point and shooting guard position a lot like Oladipo, just give him time to develop his body and watch how good he’ll be.

        • Kenleyfornia74

          You over hype the F out of Monk to the point where you said he can attract Lebron lol. Monk fell for a reason and Donovan Mitchell blew past him for “steal” of the draft

          • D-NBA

            He would be a great complimentary piece for Lebron since he loves to shoot the ball. Lebron could get him an insane amount of looks and you people are talking like Monk is a finished product, watch him average 19-21 ppg next season and all you guys will be calling me a basketball genius. I saw Monk at Kentucky, he wants to be great.

            • bdallen714

              Monk is nothing but the 2nd coming of Craig Hodges. (Don’t know that reference, google it) he will need a LeBron or a Ben Simmons or some kind of playmaker to be anything big in NBA. That being said, it doesn’t mean he won’t improve his game and become something, but his season reflects the reason why the one-and-dones need to stay in college a year longer

              • D-NBA

                Monk will be a 6’3 Ray Allen with handles, he’ll be an all-star at least 2-3 times in his career. I’m not saying he’ll reach Ray Allen’s level but he’s a really good ball handler.

                • bdallen714

                  Dreaming……Vinnie Johnson maybe. He needed another year in college before declaring for the draft.

        • acarneglia

          I’ve watched the dude play on a regular basis. He’s extremely undersized for a SG and lacks size in terms of weight.

          • D-NBA

            So what you are talking like he can’t lift weights and get stronger as if he’s in his 4th season and is up for a contract. He was tearing teams a new hole the moment he got some playing time towards the end of the season.

            • formerlyz

              He had playing time early on and was abhorrent. I like Monk. I watched him a lot in college. But you suggesting incessantly that he would have done anything for Charlotte this year, with more minutes, is ridiculous, considering it’s already been proven wrong.

            • acarneglia

              I’m not saying that I’m talking about as he is currently he doesn’t have much muscle mass to him and can’t hang with bigger guards defensively.

    • x%sure

      Clifford was supposed to win not babysit. Once that did not happen, then the kid can get some PT. Clifford did right by Monk, whatever that’s worth, but he did not win enough. Maybe nobody could there. Second chance

  2. acarneglia

    Glad to see Cliff get another chance as a HC and head back to Orlando. I think he’ll help turn that team around.

  3. Alexboii

    Is it just me or does it appear that Steve Clifford’s shirt became untucked in this picture and were getting a glimpse of a belly?

  4. I am not sure about Monk, but I think surely his ceiling is gonna be higher than Kemba, shoots better & faster & can play the 2 guard positions, so… with time to grow & mature I think he can be real good, together with Willy & whatever they can get in this draft, Charlotte will have at least a young foundation to build on. By the way I hope Charlotte give also a chance to Willy, instead of playing a lot of the DH12, Kaminsky & Zeller, man Howard was a beast but isn’t anymore & the other 2 are way bad compared with Willy, so I hope they give him a shot as the starting center.

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