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Report: Hornets bringing back Steve Clifford as head coach

Charlotte was spurned by Kenny Atkinson, who opted to remain with the champion Warriors as an assistant.

Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford reacts to a call during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on May 07, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets are expected to bring back Steve Clifford as head coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday evening.

Clifford coached the Charlotte Bobcats in their final season in 2013-2014 and then was with the team through their rebrand back to being the Charlotte Hornets. He was there until the end of the 2018 season. In his final year, Charlotte went 36-46 and missed out on the playoffs. In his five years as the head coach of the franchise, they did make the playoffs twice and haven’t been back since he left town.

After being fired in Charlotte, he became the head coach of the Orlando Magic from 2018-2021. He was able to take them to the playoffs in his first two seasons, but they lost in the First Round both times. Unfortunately, in 2021, Clifford and the Magic only won 21 games and didn’t come close to the postseason. He was given a swift exit as he and the franchise decided to part ways.

The Hornets are coming off a 43-39 season and are hoping their youth movement can give Clifford a better set of players to work with. They have high hopes, but Clifford reached 43 wins only twice in his last stint in Charlotte. The Hornets were hoping to bring in Kenny Atkinson as their new head coach, but he decided to go back to his assistant role with the Golden State Warriors after they won the 2022 NBA Finals.