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Steve Clifford is set to step down as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets at the conclusion of the season, transitioning into a front office role within the franchise, as revealed by NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. Clifford was appointed as Hornets head coach in 2022.

Clifford made the decision known to his assistants and players on Wednesday morning, ahead of the Hornets’ final seven games of the season, starting with a matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers.

This move allows the Hornets to kickstart their search for a new head coach promptly, with a list of assistant coaching candidates already being considered for the position.

Among the potential candidates are several assistant coaches such as Sacramento’s Jordi Fernandez, Boston’s Charles Lee, Miami’s Chris Quinn, Phoenix’s Kevin Young, and others.

Sources reveal that Charlotte’s new Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Peterson, and co-owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin were open to retaining Clifford as coach for the upcoming season.

However, Clifford, 62, decided against committing to the demanding year-round responsibilities of head coaching for the 2024-2025 season.

The Hornets, currently positioned at 13th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 18-57, have endured a challenging season, failing to secure a playoff spot.