The Charlotte Hornets announced that head coach Steve Clifford would move on to a front-office role in the franchise following the conclusion of this NBA season after he finishes coaching their final few games.

Clifford informed his players and assistants of the news last week.

Clifford, 62, had approval from the Hornets’ executive vice president of basketball operations, Jeff Peterson and co-owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin to return as coach next season. Still, Clifford decided he wasn’t prepared to commit to the grind of being an NBA head coach for another season.

“This is the appropriate time for me to step down,” Clifford said in a statement released by the team. I believe this is best for me and the organization. I’m excited about the future of the Hornets—our young core of players, Jeff’s leadership of our basketball operations and Rick and Gabe’s vision for the organization. I want to thank all the Hornets players and staff for their work the past two seasons and our Hornets fans for their continued support of our team.”

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With the number two pick in the NBA draft, the Hornets’ coaching job becomes more appealing to head coach prospects with the emergence of Brandon MillerLamelo Ball and a core of other young rising stars and future first-round picks to build a strong roster.

Assistant coaches Charles Lee in Boston, Jordi Fernandez in Sacramento, Chris Quinn in Miami and Kevin Young in Phoenix are among the top candidates.

The Hornets, 20-60 and eliminated from playoff contention, had the NBA’s third-most missed games due to injuries this season. Ball, their leading scorer, played only 58 games for Clifford in the past two seasons.

“Dating back to our time together in Brooklyn, I have a tremendous amount of appreciation for Coach Cliff, and I understand his decision to step down,” Peterson said in a statement. “His basketball knowledge, teaching ability and work ethic are well-respected throughout the NBA. He has had to endure some challenging circumstances the past two years, and yet our players have continued to compete, work hard and develop. On behalf of the entire Hornets organization, I want to thank Steve for all his efforts, and we look forward to having him remain a part of the organization.”

Clifford, an NBA head coach in Charlotte and Orlando, has a 337-457 record and four trips to the Eastern Conference playoffs across ten seasons.

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