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NBA Rumors: Steve Clifford Hired as Hornets HC After Kenny Atkinson's Warriors Return

Erin WalshJune 24, 2022

Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets have hired Steve Clifford as their head coach after their deal with Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson fell through, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

This marks Clifford's second stint with the Hornets after he previously coached the franchise from 2013-14 to 2017-18.

Atkinson, who was offered the Charlotte job during the 2022 NBA Finals, decided not to take the gig because "further conversations led [him] to believe it would be best to remain with the Warriors," according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The 55-year-old joined the Warriors in 2021 as an assistant after spending the 2020-21 season as an assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers. He last served as a head coach for the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-17 to 2019-20, going 118-190 in that span.

As for Clifford, he most recently served as head coach of the Orlando Magic from 2018-19 to 2020-21. In his three seasons at the helm, he led the Magic to a 96-131 record and two playoff appearances.

During his first stint with the franchise, which lasted five seasons, he went 196-214 and led the team to two playoff appearances.

In addition, the 60-year-old has served as an assistant for the Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.

The Hornets finished the 2021-22 season with the eighth-best offense, per NBA.com, though Clifford should be able to help the team improve its defense, which was among the bottom 10 last season.

Clifford will replace James Borrego, who was fired by the Hornets in April after just four seasons. The 44-year-old went 138-163 in his tenure and failed to lead the team to the postseason.

The Hornets haven't made the playoffs since 2015-16 and haven't made it past the first round since 2001-02. The franchise has also never made it past the conference semifinals.

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