May 30, 2018 / 3:21 PM / 5 months ago

Orlando Magic hire Clifford as head coach

Former Orlando assistant Steve Clifford rejoined the Magic as their new head coach.

Oct 26, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Clifford received a four-year deal from Orlando, and will be introduced later Wednesday, the team announced.

Clifford was fired by the Charlotte Hornets in April after a second consecutive 36-46 season, capping a five-year run. Clifford, 56, helped revive the franchise by taking the Hornets to the playoffs in 2014 and 2016 and leaves with a 196-214 record.

He was an assistant to former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy for five seasons.

The Magic fired head coach Frank Vogel after he went 25-57 in 2017-18 and 54-110 in two seasons with the team. Vogel previously coached the Indiana Pacers.

Orlando finished the season outside of the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

Injuries played a significant role in the product Orlando put on the floor in 2017-18. A total of 227 games were missed due to injuries or illness.

Rumors persisted around the time of Vogel’s firing that the Magic wanted former NBA guard Jerry Stackhouse to take the reins. Stackhouse is considered a top coaching candidate after he guided Toronto’s G-League team to a championship last year. He is also connected to Jeff Weltman, the Magic’s president of basketball operations and former Toronto Raptors executive.

Weltman’s hiring process was kept very quiet, and no interview with Stackhouse was ever acknowledged. Weltman did interview University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, San Antonio assistant Ime Udoka and Portland assistant David Vanterpool in the nearly two months since firing Vogel.

The Magic hold the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, which is just three weeks away.

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