Lakers assistant coach Steve Clifford has reached agreement with the Bobcats to serve as their next head coach, SI.com's Chris Mannix reports.
Clifford will leave Los Angeles after just one season to accept the first head job of an NBA coaching career that dates back to 2001. He will receive a three-year, $6 million contract, with the final season at Charlotte's option.
Clifford recently interviewed for the Bucks' open head coaching position and the Suns also requested permission from the Lakers to interview him for their open head coaching position, which reportedly will be filled by Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek. Last summer, Clifford was one of four finalists for the Blazers' head coaching position, which went to Terry Stotts.
Clifford spent five seasons in Orlando under coach Stan Van Gundy, who was fired in 2012, before signing on as an assistant coach under former Lakers coach Mike Brown shortly after the team completed a trade with the Magic for All-Star center Dwight Howard. Prior to his tenure in Orlando, which spanned from 2007 to 2012, Clifford served as an assistant coach with the Rockets and Knicks under Jeff Van Gundy, who is now an ESPN commentator.
“He has got it all,” Stan Van Gundy told Mannix. “He’s a great Xs and Os guy and he has got a great ability to teach and he has great relationships with players. He’s very much into preparation. He won’t take any shortcuts. Steve will put a great emphasis on developing players. Not just skill development, but using film, talking to guys individually, spending time with them. And on the court he will emphasize defense, ball movement and guys playing together. He will be a fabulous head coach.”
The Bobcats fired coach Mike Dunlap in April after the team went 21-61 in his only season on the job. Charlotte recently ranked dead last on The Point Forward's list of the most attractive coaching vacancies and Clifford will become the franchise's fourth coach since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan announced earlier this month that the franchise would change its name from Bobcats to "Hornets" for the 2014-15 season.