Orlando Magic and Steve Clifford conform to half methods as head coach leaves franchise after three seasons

Steve Clifford and the Orlando Magic took a while after the season to relaxation, recuperate and ponder the long run.

And after a pair weeks, they determined the match wasn’t proper anymore.

Orlando’s rebuilding mission will not embody Clifford, after he and the Magic accomplished an settlement Saturday to finish his three-year run with the membership. Magic president Jeff Weltman careworn that it was a mutual resolution and he revered Clifford for having the ability to “assess the place he’s in his profession.”

“Clearly, we have repositioned our workforce,” Weltman mentioned. “And so, there must be alignment. There must be alignment in all the things you do on this league. And if there’s not alignment, it will undermine all the things.”

That alignment clearly did not appear to be there. Weltman indicated that Clifford – who will flip 60 earlier than subsequent season begins – determined he wasn’t the precise coach to guide the Magic by way of what could also be critical rising pains with a younger group.

“The ‘why’ is kind of easy right here: alignment,” Weltman mentioned. “And if ‘Cliff’ is questioning whether or not the positioning of our workforce form of aligns together with his personal profession positioning, then he is most likely not the precise man at that time. I recognize the truth that ‘Cliff’ can look himself within the mirror and have these conversations with himself as a result of I do not suppose an entire lot of individuals can try this.”

Orlando turns into the third present teaching opening within the NBA, following Brad Stevens being promoted to president of the Boston Celtics and Portland’s transfer Friday to hunt a brand new coach after Terry Stotts held that function for 9 seasons.

Jobs coming open did not have an effect on the Magic timetable, Weltman mentioned. He additionally did not say if the workforce has a goal date for a rent. For now, the assistant coaches – a gaggle that features Ty Corbin, Steve Hetzel and Pat Delany – stay in place, and it would not be shocking if some bought at the very least a gathering with the Magic in the course of the interview course of.

Clifford was 96-131 in these three seasons, although that file is a bit deceptive given what number of accidents the workforce handled this season. Orlando went to the playoffs in 2019 and 2020 beneath Clifford, their first postseason journeys since a run of six straight resulted in 2012.

“Either side needed to do that the precise method for each other, and I believe that we moved as expeditiously as attainable to this conclusion,” Weltman mentioned.

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However this season was attempting in no scarcity of the way. Accidents gutted the Magic, after which the workforce’s core – All-Star ahead Nikola Vucevic, guard Evan Fournier and ahead Aaron Gordon – have been all moved on the commerce deadline as Orlando went youthful and stockpiled draft picks for the rebuild.

“It is the hardest season I’ve ever been by way of,” Clifford mentioned because the season ended.

Orlando was 21-51 this season, and Clifford missed some video games close to the tip of the season after testing constructive for COVID-19. He had been vaccinated simply because the constructive check outcomes got here again, was asymptomatic and returned for the season’s ultimate few days.

Clifford handled well being points previously. He missed 21 video games in the course of the 2017-18 season when he coached in Charlotte after issues attributable to sleep deprivation offered themselves, and he left a recreation at Minnesota in March 2020 after experiencing dizziness attributable to dehydration.

“It has been an honour and privilege to teach this workforce on this neighborhood,” Clifford mentioned.

After the trades, the Magic went with younger and totally different lineups over the season’s ultimate six weeks and can doubtless have two lottery picks on this yr’s draft. However the job of forming a winner from that group will fall to a special coach.

The following coach might be Orlando’s sixth since February 2015, following Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego, Scott Skiles, Frank Vogel and Clifford.

“We can’t go away any stone unturned, I can let you know that,” Weltman mentioned.

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