Steve Clifford was hired by the Magic three years ago to push a roster with talent — Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier — to the next level. Those teams made the playoffs his first two years there as the No. 7 and No. 8 seed, respectively, but never got out of the first round.
This season the Magic decided to push all-in on the rebuild at the deadline, looking to build long-term around Jonathan Isaac (out all season following knee surgery), Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, and others. Vucevic was traded to Chicago, Gordon to Denver, Fournier to Boston.
Now, Clifford is out as coach as the Magic push toward that rebuild.
— Orlando Magic PR (@Magic_PR) June 5, 2021
Clifford reportedly had one full season left on his contract but did not want to stick around for the rebuild, so the sides found a compromise.
“We would like to thank Steve for his contributions to the Orlando Magic,” Orlando president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “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.”
The Magic have interest in former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, league sources say, after Orlando and Steve Clifford parted ways today.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 5, 2021
They likely will consider other assistant coaches around the league considered strong in player development.