The Charlotte Bobcats have hired a new coach in Lakers’ assistant Steve Clifford according to two sources familiar with the situation. Speaking to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Monday, they reported that the two parties have come to terms on a three year contract.
With the hire of Clifford, he becomes the sixth coach of the Charlotte Bobcats since 2007. Previous coach Mike Dunlap was fired after the team struggled throughout last season, finishing with a paltry record of 21-61 in his only season as the team’s coach. Clifford will have his hands full as he attempts to rebuild this struggling franchise.
Reports claim that the contract reached between the two is a three year deal worth six million dollars. The Bobcats hold an option for the third and final year of the deal, and can let him go prior to the start of that year.
Previously Steve Clifford has worked for both Jeff and Steve Van Gundy while he was an assistant for the New York Knicks, the Houston Rockets, and the Orlando Magic. Before accepting this position, he had interviewed for other vacancies around the league including the Milwaukee Bucks.
Things began to look up for the Bobcats towards the end of last year, the team won 8 of its last 10 home games. If that momentum can be carried over into next season, then perhaps paired with the Bobcats’ hire of coach Steve Clifford the team can turn itself into a contender in what will be its tenth year in the league.
The Bobcats roster that will be inherited by new coaching hire Steve Clifford isn’t entirely void of talent. He has players on the roster that have shown the ability to shine in the spotlight at some point in their careers. Kemba Walker almost single handily won a NCAA title while with Connecticut in his senior year with the team. Teammates Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ben Gordon, and Brendan Haywood among others also showed promise in their NCAA careers and signs that they can carry over that elite level of play to the professional level.
Coaching changes can provide the spark a young roster needs, providing the right motivation to properly harness the talent management knew these players had prior to acquiring them. In terms of head coaching experience, Clifford is a relative newcomer. His last head coaching gig wasn’t on near the level that the NBA is, coaching at Adelphi University. He lead his team to four straight 20 win seasons during his tenure with the team.
Steve Clifford played four seasons of basketball at the University of Maine at Farmington in his youth, and has worked with the game of basketball since. He graduated from college with a degree in special education, giving him experience with instruction and leadership, two key qualities in a successful coach.
If newly hired coach Steve Clifford proves able to lead his players in a way that harnesses their talent, the Charlotte Bobcats may quickly shake their reputation as a bottom dweller in the , emerging as a contender next season.
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The Guardian Express