Add the Charlotte Hornets to the list of teams that will be coach-hunting this offseason.
The Hornets parted ways with coach Steve Clifford two days after he completed a 36-46 campaign in 2017-18. It marked the second straight season the Hornets failed to make the playoffs and, for Clifford, marked the end of his five-year stint as coach in Charlotte.
Here’s the official word from the Hornets’ release:
Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today that the team has relieved Steve Clifford of his head coaching duties.
“I want to thank Coach Clifford for his contributions to the Hornets,” said Kupchak. “I know he has worked incredibly hard on behalf of the organization and we wish him the best moving forward. The search for a new coach will begin immediately.”
Clifford was named Charlotte head coach on May 29, 2013. He finished with a regular-season record of 196-214 (.478 winning percentage). Charlotte qualified for the NBA Playoffs in 2013 and 2016. The Hornets finished the 2017-18 campaign with a 36-46 record.
On Wednesday, the New York Knicks fired coach Jeff Hornacek after two seasons on the job. Additionally, the Orlando Magic parted ways with coach Frank Vogel yesterday after his second season there, too.
At his end-of-season news conference on Wednesday, Clifford expressed some hope about his future of staying with the team despite its run of non-playoff seasons. He said this was the most talented team he’s had in Charlotte, which made finishing under .500 all the more disappointing.
“The NBA is about winning in the playoffs, so if you want to look back at our five years I do feel very good about where we are and how we are perceived versus where it was five years ago,” Clifford said. “We made great gains. To be relevant and respected in this league is a long way from where we started.”
Before becoming coach in Charlotte in 2013, Clifford spent 13 years as an NBA assistant coach with the Magic, Knicks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.