Steve Clifford stepping down as Hornets coach

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is stepping down at the end of the season and will transition to a front office role with the organization, he said Wednesday.

Clifford, 62, will coach the team’s final seven games of 2023-24.

“This is the appropriate time for me to step down,” he said in a team news release. “I believe this is best for me and the organization. I’m excited about the future of the Hornets. … I want to thank all the Hornets players and staff for their work the past two seasons and our Hornets fans for their continued support of our team.”

The team said the search for Clifford’s successor will begin immediately. ESPN reported top targets include Boston’s Charles Lee, Sacramento’s Jordi Fernandez, Miami’s Chris Quinn and Phoenix’s Kevin Young, among others.

“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,” said Jeff Peterson, the Hornets’ executive vice president of basketball operations. “We will conduct a thorough search process to select the best head coach for the Hornets moving forward.”

The Hornets have the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 18-57.

Clifford is finishing up his second tenure in Charlotte. He was the Hornets’ head coach from 2013-18 before a three-year stint in Orlando.

Clifford is 337-457 overall in nearly 10 seasons as a head coach. His teams have made the playoffs four times, going 5-16 in the postseason overall.

The Hornets, in the midst of an eight-game homestand, host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

–Field Level Media