Hornets coach Steve Clifford will reportedly step down at end of season, transition to front office role

The Charlotte Hornets will be hiring a new coach this summer.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford will step down from his position at the end of the summer. He will not leave the organization, but will stay on in a front office role, which is reportedly in the process of being finalized.

The Hornets underwent an ownership transition less than a year ago. Michael Jordan sold his majority stake in the team to an ownership group led Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin in Aug. 2023, and they hired a new executive vice president of basketball operations, Jeff Peterson.

While new owners typically want to bring in new coaches that fully represent their philosophy, Woj reported that Schnall, Plotkin, and Peterson were all open to bringing Clifford back for the 2024-2025 season. Clifford is reportedly the one who put the kibosh on returning. According to Woj, Clifford "decided he wasn't prepared to commit to the year-round grind of head coaching for the 2024-2025 season."

While some offers of post-coaching front office positions are merely ways to make it appear a coach is leaving on good terms, this one appears to be wholehearted. Via Woj:

Peterson, who worked with Clifford in Brooklyn, and ownership are eager to create an adviser position that would allow Clifford to remain in Charlotte and impact all parts of the organization, sources said.

Clifford, 62, reportedly told his assistants and players on Wednesday about his decision to step down. He'll coach the Hornets' final seven games of the season starting Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

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