Steve Clifford out as Magic head coach as Orlando enters rebuild
The Orlando Magic are the NBA third team with an opening for a head coach, joining Portland and Boston.
The Magic and Steve Clifford have agreed to part ways, the team announced in a statement Saturday.
"We appreciate the many sacrifices he has made as our head coach and understand the timeline of our new path does not align with his goals as a head coach in our league," Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement.
Clifford spent three seasons with the Magic, guiding them to the playoffs in 2019 and 2020. He was 96-131 with Orlando, including 21-51 this season in which injuries and COVID-19 health and safety protocols hampered progress.
Before the trade deadline, the Magic dealt Nik Vucevic to Chicago, Evan Fournier to Boston and Aaron Gordon to Denver in exchange for first-round picks in 2021, 2023 and 2025. It was a clear signal the Magic entered a rebuild.
Clifford and the Magic missed the postseason this year after losing in the first round the two seasons prior. (Photo: Sergio Estrada, USA TODAY Sports)
The Magic had players miss 414 games due to injury or illness. Mo Bamba was limited to 46 games, Markelle Fultz played in just eight games, Michael Carter-Williams missed 41 games, James Ennis missed 31 games, Chuma Okeke missed 27 games, Terrence Ross missed 26 games and Jonathan Isaac sat out the entire season after sustaining a torn ACL in his left knee in the bubble last season.
"It’s been an honor and privilege to coach this team in this community," Clifford said Saturday.
Clifford, 59, is a respected coach throughout the league. He has dealt with health issues over the years and missed time this season after he tested positive for COVID-19. Before Orlando, he coached Charlotte for five seasons.
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