Friday April 12th, 2024 7:32AM

Steve Clifford is stepping down as Hornets coach and will take on an advisory role

By The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Steve Clifford is stepping down as coach of the Charlotte Hornets after the season, the team announced.

Clifford informed the team of his decision on Wednesday. He plans to remain on in an advisory role.

Clifford is 45-112 in his two seasons of his second stint as coach of the Hornets and just 18-57 this season.

He is 337-457 in parts of 10 seasons as a head coach, most of them in Charlotte. He started as a head coach in Charlotte in 2013, then spent three seasons as coach of Orlando before returning to the Hornets.

Clifford's contract was set to expire after the season.

This is the second major move under new owners Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall after Mitch Kupchak stepped down as general manager midseason and was later replaced by Jeff Peterson.

“This is the appropriate time for me to step down,” Clifford said in a statement. “I believe this is best for me and the organization. I’m excited about the future of the Hornets – our young core of players, Jeff’s leadership of our basketball operations and Rick and Gabe's vision for the organization.”

Clifford will serve as head coach for the team’s seven remaining games. The Hornets host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Peterson has known Clifford since their time together with the Brooklyn Nets and said he has tremendous respect for him.

“I understand his decision to step down,” Peterson said. “His basketball knowledge, teaching ability and work ethic are well-respected throughout the NBA. He has had to endure some very difficult circumstances the past two years, and yet our players have continued to compete, work hard and develop."

Peterson said the Hornets will begin a search for a replacement immediately.

“We will look to hire someone that shares our values and vision in developing our young core and creating a culture and identity based on teamwork, accountability and competitiveness," Peterson said. "We will conduct a thorough search process to select the best head coach for the Hornets moving forward.”

Clifford previously served as head coach of the Hornets from 2013-2018, leading the team to two playoff appearances. Clifford's 241 victories as head coach are the most in Charlotte's history.

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AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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