Hornets re-hire Steve Clifford as head coach after Kenny Atkinson turned down job

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After Kenny Atkinson backed out of the job, the Charlotte Hornets decided to hire Steve Clifford to be their head coach once again.

The Charlotte Hornets seemingly had their next head coach in Kenny Atkinson, an assistant coach on the Golden State Warriors. But after the Warriors won the NBA Finals, Atkinson backed out of the job and decided to return to Golden State. So what were the Hornets to do?

Turn to a familiar face.

According to ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets are hiring Steve Clifford to be their head coach for the second time.

Hornets re-hire Steve Clifford as head coach

Clifford received his first head coaching gig with the Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats in 2013. During this tenure, the team made it to the playoffs twice, both resulting in a first-round exit. After going 196-214 in his five seasons with the Hornets, the organization fired him in 2018.

Immediately after his firing, Clifford was hired to coach the Orlando Magic. His stint with the team lasted for three seasons, resulting in a 96-131 overall record and two playoff trips that ended in the first-round.

The Hornets hired James Borrego to replace Clifford in 2018. While the team did have their first winning record under Borrego this past season (43-39), they failed to make it to the playoffs. In fact, it was the second-consecutive year that they were eliminated in the first round of the play-in tournament. Charlotte fired Borrego, who went 138-163 in four years.

Charlotte’s plan to hire Atkinson did not go off as planned. Even though they interviewed other candidates with head coaching experience like Terry Stotts, Frank Vogel and Mike D’Antoni, the Hornets decided to go with Clifford for the second time.

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