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Sports

Sources: Bobcats hire Lakers assistant as coach

May 27th, 2013 9:10 pm by Associated Press

Sources: Bobcats hire Lakers assistant as coach

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Bobcats have hired Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford to become their new coach.

Two people familiar with the situation said Monday that Clifford had agreed to a three-year contact. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not been made public.

Clifford replaces Mike Dunlap, who was fired after going 21-61 in his only season as coach.

Clifford has worked as an assistant in New York, Houston, Orlando and Los Angeles, but has never been a head coach at the NBA level. He has worked under both Jeff Van Gundy and Stan Van Gundy.

He becomes the sixth coach of the Bobcats since 2007.

The Bobcats made the move to hire Clifford on Monday, one day before he was slated for a second interview with the Milwaukee Bucks for their coaching vacancy.

Clifford came to Los Angeles with Dwight Howard from the Magic and was retained for the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach. However, the Lakers granted him permission to interview with other teams.

Prior to joining the Lakers, Clifford spent five seasons with Orlando, working alongside Stan Van Gundy. During that five-year span, the Magic were 259-135 (.657) and reached the NBA Finals in 2009.

Clifford also spent four seasons as an assistant with the Rockets and three with the Knicks. He has worked in North Carolina before as an assistant coach for one year at East Carolina.

The Bobcats fired Dunlap in April after just one season.

Dunlap struggled with the transition from the college game to the NBA and game management. He often butted heads with his players, which is likely one of the reasons the Bobcats decided to go after an experienced NBA assistant like Clifford.

Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said in mid-April he and general manager Rich Cho met with the players and Dunlap before approaching owner Michael Jordan and asking him to make a coaching change.

“The change was allowed,” Higgins said in April.

Higgins said at the time player input was “a part of the process, but not the only indicator.”

Higgins was asked in April what he wanted in a new coach.

“We want to hire a great leader, (and) the player development aspect is still vitally important to us because of our youth,” Higgins said. “Obviously you want a fantastic X-and-O coach. Someone who can make our players better, and help us win games.”


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