Steve Clifford, most recently a Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach, reportedly has been hired as the new head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Clifford was also a candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks head coaching job.
Prior to joining the Lakers, Clifford was an assistant under Stan Van Gundy with the Orlando Magic for five years and reportedly had developed a close relationship with Dwight Howard who also joined the Lakers.
Clifford takes over a team with a lot of room for improvement to say the least. The Bobcats, who intend to reclaim the Hornets name for the franchise now that New Orleans has become the Pelicans, were 21-61 under the fired Mike Dunlap, which was the second worst record in the NBA. In the 2011-12 season lockout-shortened season, the Bobcats won only seven games under head coach Paul Silas. The Bobcats play their home games at Time Warner Cable Arena in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Clifford contract is worth $6 million over three years, although the third year is not guaranteed. Clifford was also an assistant at New York (under Jeff Van Gundy) and Houston and prior to that coached Adelphi University for four years. Reportedly he plans to hire former Knicks center Patrick Ewing as one of his assistant coaches.
The perennial cellar-dwelling Bobcats came into the league as an expansion team in 2004 (the Charlotte Hornets having relocated to New Orleans in 2002). NBA legend Michael Jordan bought the team in 2010.
Clifford is said to be a defensive-oriented coach along the lines of the Van Gundy brothers and Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “Combine his experience with a focus on defense that Charlotte has lacked recently, and this could be the hire the Bobcats — a team with intriguing talent on the perimeter and a top-five pick in the upcoming draft — desperately need to bring them out of the cellar.”
Do you think Steve Clifford can orchestrate a turnaround for the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets?
[Image credit: Kielerjunge]