|Steve Clifford out as Hornets coach|
|Search for replacement opens immediately|
|Published Friday, April 13, 2018 10:22 am|
Steve Clifford is out as Hornets head coach.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today the team fired Clifford three days after the regular season finale. Charlotte failed to make the postseason for the second year in a row after going 36-46.
“I want to thank Coach Clifford for his contributions to the Hornets,” Kupchak said in a statement. “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, who was named head coach 2013, finished with a regular-season record of 196-214. He missed a month of the 2017-18 season due to headaches caused by sleep deprivation.
Charlotte earned playoff berths in 2013 and 2016, but slid after the Hornets pushed Miami to a seven-game series in the first round of the 2016 postseason. Clifford, a defense-oriented coach, struggled to put together teams that could stop opponents in his final two seasons, in part because of a lack of bench strength.
Clifford’s firing is the latest move for the Hornets, who hired Kupchak Sunday. A new coach has to be hired as well as preparation for the NBA draft lottery, in which Charlotte is one of 14 teams to have a chance at the No. 1 pick, as well as deciding the team's direction regarding point guard Kemba Walker and center Dwight Howard. Walker is a free agent at the end of the 2018-19 season, while Howard has two seasons on his deal and has indicated he wants to stay in Charlotte.
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