Report: Steve Clifford Will Return To Charlotte As The Team’s Head Coach

The Charlotte Hornets were left without a coach going into this year’s draft after Kenny Atkinson reneged on his commitment to become the team’s head coach. Many thought the other reported coaching finalist, Mike D’Antoni, would fill the coaching position and turn the LaMelo Ball Hornets into a zoomer-charged version of the seven seconds or less Suns.

However, on the morning of the NBA Draft, Marc Stein reported that a possible reunion with former head coach Steve Clifford was in play for the Hornets.

One day later and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports Clifford will, indeed, return to Charlotte.

Clifford coached the Hornets for five seasons and was fired at the conclusion of 2018. He then went on to coach the Orlando Magic for three years and spent this past season out of the league.

Throughout his tenure in both Charlotte and Orlando, Clifford installed air-tight defensive systems that pulled both franchises out of the metaphorical NBA gutter to a level respected competition. He even pushed the Hornets into becoming a top-5 defense early in his tenure and led the franchise to two playoff appearances.

Clifford inherits a much more talented roster than the one he left in 2018 with Ball on a path for stardom and, potentially, a Miles Bridges extension on the horizon. Charlotte finished 22nd in defense last season and that will be Clifford’s primary focus this season — Charlotte’s selection of Duke center Mark Williams in the draft should go a long ways towards shoring up that defense.