ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford will not return next season, the team reported Saturday.
Clifford’s departure comes after three seasons coaching the Magic, who made the playoffs in his first two years but stumbled to a record of 21-51 this past season.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN first reported the news on Saturday.
Clifford, a former assistant for the Magic under Stan Van Gundy, came to the Magic in 2018 after five seasons coaching the Charlotte Hornets.
“We would like to thank Steve for his contributions to the Orlando Magic,” said President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman in a news release. “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.”
In the release, Clifford said, “I would like to thank the DeVos family, Magic leadership and the entire staff, and certainly wish everyone well. It’s been an honor and privilege to coach this team in this community.”
During his three years with the Magic, Clifford, 59, compiled a record of 96-131, but the team traded players this season with an eye toward rebuilding.
Clifford took over for Frank Vogel in 2018 and immediately had success, after seven losing seasons for the team following the departure of Dwight Howard. The Magic improved by 17 wins that year, going 42-40 and making the playoffs, where they lost in the first round to the Toronto Raptors.
The 2019-20 season saw the Magic slide back to 33-40 but still make the playoffs, losing again in the first round, to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 2020-21 season saw the Magic decide to start a rebuild, trading star players Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon and finishing the season with a chance at the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft next month, behind Houston and Detroit in the reverse standings.