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Hornets' Clifford stepping down at end of season

Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is stepping down from his role at the end of the season, the franchise announced Tuesday.

Clifford will remain the bench boss for Charlotte's final seven games and is expected to move into an advisory role with the front office next season.

"This is the appropriate time for me to step down," Clifford said in a statement. "I believe this is best for me and the organization. I'm excited about the future of the Hornets – our young core of players, Jeff's leadership of our basketball operations and Rick and Gabe’s vision for the organization. I want to thank all the Hornets players and staff for their work the past two seasons and our Hornets fans for their continued support of our team."

The Hornets are expected to consider Jordi Fernandez of the Sacramento Kings, Charles Lee of the Boston Celtics, Chris Quinn of the Miami Heat, and Kevin Young of the Phoenix Suns for the vacancy, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Charlotte's new executive vice president of basketball operations Jeff Peterson and co-owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin were open to bringing Clifford back as coach next campaign. However, the 62-year-old wasn't prepared to commit to the role and informed the assistant coaches and players of his decision on Wednesday morning, according to Wojnarowski.

Clifford took over as head coach of the franchise in 2013 and spent seven total seasons in that role. He led the Hornets to the playoffs twice between 2013-2018. He was fired and then hired by the Orlando Magic, where he spent three campaigns as the bench boss. Clifford then returned to Charlotte last season.

Over his tenure, Clifford went 241-326, good for a .425 winning percentage. He ranks first in wins with the franchise.

The Hornets rank 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 18-57 record.

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