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Steve Clifford steps away from Hornets to address health

Nov 29, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reacts in the third quarter during a game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford will be stepping away from the team to address his health, according to the team. There is no timetable for his return.

Out of respect for Clifford’s privacy, the Hornets are withholding details about his situation and will not make any further comments at the current time. Assistant head coach Stephen Silas will assume Clifford’s position.

The 56-year-old Clifford took over as Charlotte’s head coach during the 2013-14 campaign and led the club to a surprising 43 wins and a playoff appearance. The previous season, the Hornets went just 21-61 under the direction of Mike Dunlap, who lasted just one year with the team.

Clifford’s high-water mark during his four-plus-year tenure as Hornets head coach came during the 2015-16 season, when he guided the squad to 48 wins. Charlotte proceeded to push the Miami Heat to seven games in the first round of the playoffs, but ultimately fell in a blowout loss in Game 7 on the road.

Many felt the Hornets would once again be a playoff team last year, but they slumped to a 36-46 record and were never able to gain their footing at any point during the year.

Charlotte went out and added center Dwight Howard over the summer to help its rim protection, and with a cast that includes Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, the Hornets were expected to vault themselves back into postseason contention.

However, they have not done so thus far, as they have gotten off to a disappointing 9-13 start and have lost four of their last five games.



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