Lakers assistant coach Steve Clifford will become the Charlotte Bobcats’ next head coach, according to league sources.
The contract hasn’t completely been finalized, the source said. But Clifford will have two guaranteed years with a team option on his third season worth around $6 million in the 2015-16 campaign.
Clifford was originally planning to visit with the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday in what would’ve been his second interview for the team’s head-coaching position, according to a league source. But Clifford was open to any head coaching position, according to someone familiar with his thinking.
Clifford’s departure from the Lakers marks another shift in which Mike D’Antoni’s coaching staff has drastically altered since the end of the 2012-13 season. Lakers assistant coach Eddie Jordan took the Rutgers’ men’s basketball position shortly before the NBA playoffs started. Mike D’Antoni informed both Bernie Bickerstaff and Chuck Person they would not be retained a week after the Lakers’ first-round playoff exit to the San Antonio Spurs. And Lakers players development coach Phil Handy joined Mike Brown’s coaching staff with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
D’Antoni currently has his brother, Dan, and Darvin Ham assistants. Some possible replacements could include Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan, though both hirings would hinge on whether they would receive head-coaching positions. Gentry, who worked with D’Antoni as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns, is considered a coaching candidate for the Clippers. McMillan, who was an assistant with D’Antoni with Team USA, is also considered a coaching candidate for the Clippers. Regardless, D’Antoni doesn’t plan to fill all the vacancies considering he prefers a smaller staff than Brown employed before the Lakers fired him following a 1-4 start.
Brown hired Clifford, and was one of five assistants retained when D’Antoni took over following a 1-4 start. Clifford first started out in the NBA ranks as an advance scout for the New York Knicks (2000-01) before moving up as an assistant coach (2001-03) under Don Nelson. He then worked as an assistant for Jeff Van Gundy with the Houston Rockets (2003-2007) and for Stan Van Gundy with the Orlando Magic (2007-2012).
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