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It appears the Charlotte Hornets are taking two steps forward and one step back, bringing in former head coach Steve Clifford to take the reins once again.
After Kenny Atkinson rejected Charlotte last week, reports surfaced on Thursday that Clifford was emerging as a favorite for the Hornets job. On Friday, ESPN confirmed the veteran head coach’s hire.
Clifford takes over from James Borrego, the only head coach during Clifford’s four-year absence. Borrego coached the Hornets to a 138-163 record over four years, with losses in the play-in tournament in back-to-back years the likely reason for his firing.
Clifford, who also coached the Orlando Magic from 2018 to 2021, doesn’t boast much better of a record with the Hornets, going 196-214 in his five years in Charlotte, but was able to reach the playoffs twice during his first tenure.
The reason for his return engagement? Familiarity. Clifford has remained on good terms with team owner Michael Jordan and general manager Mitch Kupchak since his firing in 2018.
After a puzzling draft on Thursday, the Hornets will look for ways to strengthen their team to make their first playoff appearance since Clifford brought them there in 2016.