CHARLOTTE, North Carolina ( Associated Press) — Steve Clifford is headed back to Charlotte.
He has agreed to a multi-year deal that will see him return as Hornets coach four years after he was fired by owner Michael Jordan.
The team announced the fares on Friday night.
Charlotte signed an in-principle four-year deal with Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson to become the team’s head coach. However, Atkinson informed the team that he would not take the job due to family reasons.
“I am delighted to be back in Charlotte and would like to thank Michael Jordan, Mitch Kupchak and Buzz Peterson for this opportunity,” Clifford said in the statement. “It’s a very exciting young team with a lot of talented pieces. Charlotte is a great city and I know firsthand that the fans have a passion for the franchise. I look forward to coming back to the city and starting working with our players.” can not wait.”
Clifford, 60, spent five seasons coaching the Hornets from 2013–18, setting a record of 196–214 with a team that also included Kemba Walker.
He led the Hornets to the playoffs twice before being fired in 2018, when Kupchak arrived as general manager. Clifford coached the Orlando Magic from 2018-21, reaching the postseason twice. Last season he served as a consultant for the Brooklyn Nets.
He has a record of 292-345 in eight seasons as an NBA coach.
Their best season at Charlotte came in 2015–16, when the Hornets went 48–34 and lost in seven games to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Team owner Michael Jordan met Clifford on Wednesday, who moved in on good terms in 2018.
Known as a coach with a defensive profile, Clifford has inherited a team that finished eighth last season but finished 22nd in defense.
Last season, the Hornets scored 132 points in a 29-point loss to the Hawks, only ending in a playoff minitournament game, which didn’t sit well with Jordan.
During Clifford’s five seasons with the team, the Hornets finished sixth, 10th, ninth and 17th twice.
In his eight seasons as NBA head coach, Clifford’s teams never finished outside the top five in the league in turnover, and in seven of his eight seasons his team was in the top two in offensive rebounds and the top five in defensive rebounding percentage. ended in