Steve Clifford Returns To Charlotte
Steve Clifford has returned to coach the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets four years after being sacked by the franchise’s owner, Michael Jordan.
The team had previously agreed with Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson to see him sign a four-year contract.
Still, he declined the offer attributing his decision to family problems.
Clifford stated he was happy to rejoin the team and singled out Mitch Kupchak, Michael Jordan, and Buzz Peterson for their role in the deal.
He acknowledged that the team was young and had a lot of talented players.
He admitted he was happy to work in the city and talked about the fans and his eagerness to work with the team.
The 60-year-old worked as Hornet’s team manager for five seasons from 2013 to 2018.
His score was 196-214, with a side that had Kemba Walker.
He led the team to two playoffs before being sacked in 2018 when Kupchak was made general manager.
The coach headed Orlando Magic from 2018 to 2021, playing in the playoffs twice, and he spent last season working at Brooklyn Nets as a coaching consultant.
In the eight seasons, Clifford has worked as an NBA coach, he has scored 292-345.
The 2015 to 2016 season was his best since he managed 48-34 but lost to Miami Heat in the first round.
Michael Jordan and Steve Clifford met on Wednesday.
Steve Clifford Is Defensive-Minded
Clifford is known for his defensive-minded approach, and he takes over a team that performed well offensively but had a dismal performance defensively.
Last season, the Hornets gave up 132 points to the Hawks during the play-in elimination, leaving a bad taste on the team owner.
In the five seasons Clifford coached the Hornets, they finished 6th, 10th, 9th, 17th, and 17th defensively.
In the eight seasons, he has worked as an NBA coach, the tactician’s teams have always finished among the top five when looking at the fewest turnovers committed.
He has only managed to finish outside the top two once in offensive rebounds allowed for the eight seasons he has coached.
General Manager Kupchak’s Statement
The team’s general manager said he expects the team to play at a high pace.
He stated that the coach was dedicated to playing with the same tenacity that fans were accustomed to seeing in the last few seasons.
He also revealed his confidence that Clifford will manage to assist young players to grow as the franchise seeks to work together in the coming seasons as a team.
Clifford takes over a team with more talent than the previous Charlotte teams he worked with.
There is Gordon Hayward, LaMelo Ball, and Miles Bridge.
Atkinson decided to renege on his contract leading the Hornets to scramble for a coach.
Kupchak admitted it felt disappointing, but he was glad it happened as it did.
Terry Stotts and Mike D’Antonio were also considered as replacements.
The general manager orchestrated the franchise’s draft without a coach but stated it was a minor issue since, in the previous years, he had worked with managers who were not even in the draft room.
The general manager stated Atkinson’s actions reminded him of Steve Kerr, who turned down a job offer from the Knicks and later went to Golden State to win four NBA titles.
He also pointed out the abrupt resignation of NFL coach Bill Belichick before being introduced by the New York Jets in 2000 and went on to win six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.
Atkinson has not replied to his decision to back out from working with the team.