Steve Clifford Details Why He's Stepping Down as Head Coach

It's safe to say the last two years have taken a toll on the veteran coach.
Apr 9, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reacts
Apr 9, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reacts / Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
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Steve Clifford was optimistic about the situation he was stepping into when he returned to Charlotte two summers ago. He had a young team with some intriguing pieces to build around coming off a 43-win season.

What he didn’t know was that the Hornets would go through two years of awful injury luck, essentially forcing his hand to play guys out of position or playing other youngsters in role they weren’t quite ready for. It led to a lot of losing and it’s taken a lot out of the veteran head coach.

“There’s a certain energy level that you need to be able to have a chance to coach effectively in this league. I think probably for me the last couple years with the losing has been a factor in it, but as we have been meeting and discussing things, I’m just not comfortable that I can give the players what they need from a head coach in order to play well every night. Jeff (Peterson), Rick (Schnall), Gabe (Plotkin) and I talked and I just can’t do this right now, so it’s just best for me to step aside.

"In terms of my coaching career, there’ll be a time to self-reflect after that. I will say this, it’s not what I wanted it to be and yet I don’t know may people that have had a better life than I have. I love this. I love the games. I love coaching. In terms of the next phase and the opportunity to learn from Jeff is that is something that truly excites me.

“I think people would look at it and say maybe there’s an advisory role. Like the NFL teams, right? They have a lot of offensive advisors and things like that. Like the Panthers this year I think had Jim Caldwell. And that part, listen, I would love to do that. I think it would be fun. I’m also, and Jeff knows this, I’d be just as interested in learning the draft, learning how to do free agency. You know, I don’t know anything about the front office. That part is really exciting to me.”

Details on Clifford's role with the franchise have not been finalized, but that is expected to be known shortly after the season comes to an end on Sunday in Cleveland.

Schuyler Callihan


schuylercallihan(at)  Twitter:@Callihan_ Schuyler Callihan is the lead publisher of Mountaineers Now, All Panthers, and All Hornets on FanNation/Sports Illustrated. He took over publishing duties of All Panthers in 2020 and wanted to expand his professional coverage in the Queen City by running the operations at All Hornets. Schuyler attended Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia before finishing up his schooling at Alamance Community College in Graham, North Carolina. The Wheeling, West Virginia native made the move to North Carolina in 2015 and has been in Charlotte since 2021.