Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is stepping away from the team for an undetermined period of time.
Here’s the announcement from that the organization released on Wednesday:
The Charlotte Hornets announced today that Head Coach Steve Clifford will be away from the team for the immediate future to address his health. Currently, there is no timetable for his return. Hornets Associate Head Coach Stephen Silas will serve as acting head coach. Out of respect for Clifford’s privacy, the Hornets will have no further comment at this time.
Clifford has been helming the Hornets since the 2013-14 season, over which time he’s coached them to a pair of playoff berths and, thus far, 169-182 record. He assumed the post touting a hard-nosed defensive reputation, which he retains today, but has shown he can adapt to the shifting offensive tides at times, most notably in 2015-16, when Charlotte hovered around the top 10 of both offensive and defensive efficiency while shooting more threes.
This news comes at a time when the Hornets, by Clifford’s own admission, are searching for their identity. They rank 12th in points allowed per 100 possessions, but their effort and execution on that side of the floor has been touch-and-go all year, and their offense checks in at 20th on the efficiency scale.
At 9-14, with a bottom-12 net rating, they register as one of this year’s biggest disappointments—though, to Clifford’s credit, he is not the cause. He’s assumed blame on occasion, but he’s guiding an uneven roster that isn’t getting enough from its highest paid player, in Nicolas Batum, and doesn’t have the ancillary playmakers around Kemba Walker to cobble together something resembling a consistent offense.
Stephen Silas, who will take over in Clifford’s stead, is a highly respected assistant around the league and has been in Charlotte for some time. He is often given credit for his work with the squad’s youngsters, and his familiarity with the roster, having been around for so long, should make for a smooth transition.