The lengthy Magic coaching search - which had been mostly quiet, at least publicly - is finally over.
And their new coach is a familiar name: Steve Clifford.
The former Orlando assistant, who was fired by the Hornets last month, has reached a deal to become the head coach of the Magic, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Steve Clifford has agreed to a four-year contract to become the new head coach of the Orlando Magic, league sources tell ESPN. Magic will hold a news conference today to introduce Clifford, who led Charlotte to two playoff appearances.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 30, 2018
Clifford served as an assistant coach with the Magic under Stan Van Gundy from 2007 to 2012. As head coach of the Hornets, he went 196-214 in five seasons. Clifford inherited a Hornets team in 2013 (then the Bobcats) that was coming off a season in which they had the league’s second worst record. In his first season with the team, he guided the Hornets to the playoffs with a 43-39 record. The Hornets regressed the following season, going 33-49, before improving to 48-34 the following season, where they earned the sixth seed and lost in seven games to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The Hornets went 36-46 in each of Clifford’s final two seasons with the team.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported that Clifford had interviews with the Magic on May 16th and May 24th before meeting with the DeVos family on Tuesday.
Welcome back, Coach Clifford! pic.twitter.com/F21uCxM3KP— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) May 30, 2018
The Magic will hold a press conference on Wednesday to introduce Clifford. The hiring ends a somewhat lengthy process that began when Frank Vogel was fired in April after two seasons with the team. It was reported during the season that Jerry Stackhouse was considered the Magic’s top target to replace Vogel. With many of the league’s coaching vacancies filled, Stackhouse remains available.
Others that reportedly interviewed with the Magic were David Fizdale, who took the Knicks head coaching job, Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, and Trailblazers assistant coach David Vanterpool.
In the end, the Magic opted to go with someone with head coaching experience as the franchise enters yet another rebuild. Clifford, who is 56 years old, becomes the fifth Magic coach since the 2014-2015 season.
More on this story coming soon. In the meantime, do you like the hiring or think the Magic should have went with an up-and-coming coaching prospect like Stackhouse?