Apr 3, 2024 - Sports

Charlotte Hornets head coach stepping down

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford on the sidelines of a game.

This is Steve Clifford's second stint with the Hornets. Photo: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford will step down at the end of the season when his contract expires, the team announced Wednesday. He'll coach the final seven games before stepping into a front-office advisory role.

Why it matters: The Hornets are in the midst of a major overhaul, from personnel to facilities.

Context: This was Clifford's second stint with the Hornets. He previously was head coach from 2013-2018. He took the team to the playoffs twice.

  • His 241 wins make him the winningest coach in franchise history.

Catch up quick: Michael Jordan sold his majority stake in the Hornets less than a year ago. The new owners, a group led by businessmen Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin, are proving they aren't afraid to spend money and make trades.

  • Hornets' Sports & Entertainment president and vice chairman Fred Whitfield announced last year he was leaving the organization after more than 17 years.
  • Mitch Kupchak, who has been the team's general manager and president of basketball operations since 2018, announced in February he was stepping down and into an advisory role.
  • The team hired Jeff Peterson as executive VP of basketball operations to replace Kupchak a few weeks later.

What we're watching: The team's new owners plan to build a new standalone practice facility across from the arena that should open in time for the 2026-27 season.

  • Spectrum Center will close May through September of this year and 2025, with renovations expected to be complete before the 2025-2026 NBA season.
  • The total public funding contribution for these projects is $275 million, which the city approved in 2022.

What's next: The search for a new head coach begins immediately, Peterson said in a statement.

  • "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.

The bottom line: Fans just want a winning team. The Hornets (18-57) haven't been to the playoffs since the 2015-2016 season.


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