Hornets agree to multiyear extension with Steve Clifford

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Charlotte Hornets have entrusted their short-term future to coach Steve Clifford.

The Hornets agreed in principle to a multiyear contract extension Wednesday with Clifford, who is in his third season with the franchise. The team did not release financial terms.

''Personally, it is just what I was hoping would happen,'' Clifford said before Wednesday night's game against the Washington Wizards. ''I like it here. I am very appreciative to Michael (Jordan), Curtis (Polk) and Rich (Cho) to see it through. I am very happy. It is what I wanted and what I was hoping for. I feel like we have made good strides in a lot of ways since I've been here and I want to be here when we get back to the days when we are a playoff team which I think we can be this year.''

Clifford has a 84-94 record since taking over in 2013.

The team went 43-39 in his first season and made the playoffs but was swept in the first round by the Miami Heat. Charlotte fell to 33-49 last season amid a series of injuries.

The Hornets have a different look this season following the additions of Nicolas Batum, Spencer Hawes, Jeremy Lamb and Jeremy Lin.

Clifford has 30 years of NBA coaching experience, having spent time as an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and New York Knicks.

''We like what coach and his staff have been doing,'' Hornets general manager Rich Cho said. ''I think he has done a really good job over the last two years. We want some continuity and we are excited to have him locked down to an extension.''

Cho called Clifford ''very organized and a hard worker.''

''He's a great X's and O's coach, he has great rapport with the players and like I said we are extremely happy to have him here,'' Cho said.

The Hornets are 8-6 and have won six straight games at home.

Clifford believes this team has the talent to make a playoff run, but said there is still plenty of room for improvement.

''We are fourth in offense and I think we have moved up to 15th in defense,'' Clifford said. ''To have a chance, to be a real factor we have to be top ten in both. So there are things that we can do to improve offensively but we have got to get going defensively.''

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