Hornets Hire Celtics Assistant Charles Lee as New Head Coach

Lee will stay on Boston's bench for the remainder of the postseason before joining Charlotte.
Dec 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla and assistant coach Charles Lee
Dec 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla and assistant coach Charles Lee / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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The Charlotte Hornets have found their successor to Steve Clifford. On Thursday, the organization announced the hiring of Boston Celtics assistant Charles Lee as 12th head coach in franchise history. Lee will stay with the Celtics until their playoff run concludes, at which point he will join the Hornets.

“We are excited to welcome Charles Lee as the head coach of Charlotte Hornets,” Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Jeff Peterson said in the release. “His high character and his ability to connect with players while also instilling a culture of accountability will serve us well as we construct a competitive team built for long-term success. Charles possesses a championship pedigree with a wide range of basketball knowledge and NBA experience, has a tremendous work ethic and is a great communicator. He shares our vision for this organization, and I look forward to partnering with him in building something special here in the Carolinas."

“The opportunity to be the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets is a dream come true,” added Lee.  “I want to thank Rick Schnall, Gabe Plotkin and Jeff Peterson for the trust they are placing in me to lead this team. The Hornets have a talented young core of players and I’m excited about our future and what we can build here. There are few places as passionate about basketball as the Carolinas, and I look forward to coming to Charlotte and getting to work.”

The 39-year-old Lee has been tabbed as a future head coach for a few offseasons now. He joined Mike Budenholzer's staff in Atlanta in 2014 and followed him to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2017. During his time on the bench he has become one of the respected assistant coaches in the NBA and joined Joe Mazzulla's Celtics after Budenholzer was fired following the 2022-'23 season. In Boston he helped the team to a league-high 64 wins.

Adrian Wojnarowski reports the deal is for four years.

Lee has some work to do in his first-ever head coaching gig. The Hornets have two exciting young players in LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller, who just wrapped up his rookie year averaging 17.3 points per game on 44% shooting from the floor. However, Ball's injury problems have become alarming and Charlotte's other draft picks from the last few years don't appear to be working out.

Clifford, who stepped down at season's end, led Charlotte to a 21-61 record in 2023-'24. The roster needs quite a bit of work before it is ready to be regularly competitive.

Nonetheless, it is a good hire for the Hornets based on how in-demand Lee was, and as good a place as any for Lee to start his head coaching career.

Liam McKeone


Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.