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NBA

Steve Clifford agrees to return as Charlotte Hornets coach

Charlotte Hornets, the NBA franchise owned by Michael Jordan, have confirmed the return of veteran coach Steve Clifford to lead a team that hasn’t qualified for the playoffs in six years.

Update:
Clifford
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The Charlotte Hornets, the NBA team owned by Michael Jordan, have confirmed the return of veteran coach Steve Clifford to lead a team that has not made the playoffs in six years.

“We are thrilled to welcome back Steve. We believe his previous experience and playing philosophy make him the best coach for our team,” president Mitch Kupchak said in a statement.

Clifford, 60, coached the Hornets from 2013 to 2018, before taking over the Orlando Magic for three seasons.

The hiring ends a long and eventful search for the replacement of James Borrego, who was fired in April after the Hornets were eliminated from the playoff race.

Former Head Coach James Borrego of the Charlotte Hornets
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Former Head Coach James Borrego of the Charlotte Hornets Nic AntayaAFP

Atkinson u-turn

A deal had been struck with former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson, but Atkinson changed his mind and decided to stay on as an assistant to Steve Kerr with the newly crowned NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

Clifford, who underwent heart surgery during the 2017-2018 season, will have to accentuate the progress of a rejuvenated team around point guard LaMelo Ball and wing Miles Bridges, who finished 10th in the Eastern Conference.