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NBA: Bobcats hire Lakers assistant Clifford as coach

First Published May 27 2013 06:45 pm • Last Updated May 28 2013 12:09 am

Charlotte, N.C. • The Charlotte 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.

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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 and Stan Van Gundy.

He becomes the sixth coach of the Bobcats since 2006-07.

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.


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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 under Jeff Van Gundy and three with the Knicks.

Jeff Van Gundy, now an NBA broadcaster, said he’s known Clifford since they coached together at the Jim Boeheim camp in 1985 in Syracuse, N.Y., and called him "a person with impeccable integrity."

He also thinks he’s going to be a pretty good NBA head coach because of the relationships he builds with players and fellow coaches.

"He’s a brilliant basketball coach who relates to all kinds of people well and I think he will do an absolutely fantastic job with the talent at hand," Jeff Van Gundy said. "I’m so happy for one of the good guys in the league to get this opportunity."

Clifford has worked in North Carolina briefly 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 veteran players, which is likely one of the reasons the Bobcats decided to go after an experienced NBA assistant like Clifford.

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