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Former Hornets Coach Steve Clifford a Candidate for Same Job, per Report

As the Hornets continue their search for a new head coach after suddenly losing their top choice, a familiar name is starting to emerge as a viable candidate.

Former Hornets coach Steve Clifford has been gaining “serious mounting buzz” as a contender to return to the same role, NBA insider Marc Stein reported Thursday. Charlotte re-opened the position after initially agreeing to terms with Kenny Atkinson on June 10, only for the Warriors assistant to back out of the job to stay with Golden State after winning the 2022 NBA Finals.

News of Clifford’s possible reunion with the Hornets gained more traction Friday after The Charlotte Observer reported the 60-year-old met with Hornets governor Michael Jordan and general manager Mitch Kupchak this week to discuss the job.

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During his five-year run with the organization from 2013–18, Clifford coached Charlotte to a 196–214 record and two postseason appearances. He missed 21 games in his last season with the club in 2017–18 after dealing headaches caused by sleep deprivation, and was subsequently fired at the end of the campaign.

A 12-year NBA assistant prior to joining Charlotte, Clifford has not coached since 2021 when he departed the Magic following a three-season run as head coach. Despite posting a 96–131 record under Clifford, Orlando earned back-to-back playoff berths in ’19 and ’20, both of which ended in the first round losses. Both series went five games.

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