The Charlotte Hornets parted ways with head coach Steve Clifford on Friday morning. But many expect his NBA coaching career to continue.
He was a longtime assistant coach with the Orlando Magic, who currently have a vacancy at head coach after firing Frank Vogel. Clifford coached Orlando center Bismack Biyombo when the big man played in Charlotte.
Another team to watch is the Detroit Pistons. When he was with the Magic, Clifford worked alongside current Pistons head coach and executive Stan Van Gundy. However, any job with Detroit would presumably end up as an assistant alongside Van Gundy — not to replace him.
Someone else Clifford has experience coaching on multiple teams is current Cleveland Cavaliers coach Ty Lue. This could be worth monitoring because it could lead to Clifford joining Lue as an assistant either in Cleveland or elsewhere if the Cavs decide to move on from him as their head coach.
He was previously a finalist for the Portland Trail Blazers gig before it was offered to Terry Stotts.
Clifford also reportedly canceled an interview with the Milwaukee Bucks when he accepted the gig in Charlotte. The Phoenix Suns were rumored to be interested in Clifford back in 2013 too.
However, the franchise he has the most connections to is the Minnesota Timberwolves.
During his time with the Houston Rockets, current Minnesota head coach and executive Tom Thibodeau was an assistant coach with him. Others from that tenure with the Rockets (including John Lucas III, Rafer Alston, Rick Brunson and Andy Greer) are currently on the staff in Minnesota.
Clifford, 56, was also an assistant coach for the New York Knicks at the beginning of his career. The Knicks have the same ownership group in the mix now. Allan Houston, one of the players he coached during his time in New York, is now an executive for the Knicks.
The former Charlotte head coach will also reportedly compete with Stephen Silas, one of his assistants, for some of the openings available in the league. Silas is credited with helping Golden State Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry develop his pregame warmup (via ESPN):
“Curry’s routine has taken on a few variations over the years. Former Warriors assistant and current Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas is mostly responsible for creating the foundation of the routine.”
Silas has interviewed for head coaching jobs before, including with the Hornets and Rockets. He has experience coaching LeBron James and potential NBA coaching candidate Kevin Ollie.
He also coached alongside current Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk on the Warriors.