The Magic officially decided on their new head coach this week, announcing the hiring of former Hornets coach Steve Clifford on Wednesday. Clifford reportedly agreed to a four-year contract to become Frank Vogel‘s replacement in Orlando.
As Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel details, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond – who interviewed Clifford for the Bucks’ job in Milwaukee back in 2013 – met with him twice this time around. The first of those meetings happened on May 16, with the second taking place on May 24. Weltman and Hammond liked what they heard in those sessions, and their deal with Clifford reflects that — the final year isn’t a team option, sources tell Robbins.
“I’m not betting on something that I don’t know,” Weltman said on Wednesday. “Steve Clifford has proven himself to be an elite-level NBA coach in addition to having great personal skills, player-development abilities [and] all the organizational bullet points that we had hoped to address.”
Here’s more on the Magic’s new coach and the search that led the team to him:
- Despite being rumored to have significant interest in Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse, the Magic never interviewed Stackhouse, sources tell Robbins.
- University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, cited as a Magic candidate, confirmed that he met with the club “multiple times,” as Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston relays. However, Sampson said that he’ll remain at his current job with the University of Houston.
- Before hiring Clifford, the Magic made plays for “some big fish in the collegiate ranks,” according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). One of those targets was presumably Tom Izzo, as the Michigan State head coach was linked to Orlando last week.
- One possible factor in the Magic’s decision to hire Clifford? His impressive work in games against Orlando. As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer notes, Clifford’s Hornets had defeated the Magic 11 times in a row prior to his ouster in Charlotte.