Hornets fire head coach Steve Clifford after 5 seasons

Mitch Kupchak looked to the sidelines for his first major move as Charlotte’s new head of basketball operations.

The Charlotte Hornets fired head coach Steve Clifford after five seasons at the helm on Friday morning. In his first head coaching gig, Clifford posted a 196-214 record with two playoff appearances, but never advanced past the first round.

“I want to thank Coach Clifford for his contributions to the Hornets,” Kupchak said in a statement. “I know he has worked incredibly hard on behalf of the organization and we wish him the best moving forward. The search for a new coach will begin immediately.”

The Hornets missed the postseason for the second straight season despite their costly, veteran-laden roster.

Clifford previously served as an assistant for the Knicks, Rockets, Magic and Lakers, where Kupchak was Los Angeles’ general manager. When asked about his then-head coach during his introductory news conference, Kupchak expressed his belief that Clifford is head coaching material but did not offer his endorsement. The decision was announced following a meeting between the two men.

Clifford, who had one season remaining on his contract could be considered a candidate at other NBA head coaching vacancies.