The Charlotte Hornets signed head coach Steve Clifford to a multiyear contract extension on Wednesday.
Terms were not disclosed but according to published reports last month, the deal is a three-year guaranteed extension, keeping Clifford, a Maine native, as Hornets coach through the 2018-2019 season. The new deal also has a team option for the 2019-2020 season.
“We like what Coach Clifford and his staff have been doing,” Hornets general manager Rich Cho said in a statement. “He has done a really good job over the last two years. We want some continuity and we are excited to have him locked down to an extension. He is very organized and an extremely hard worker who has a great rapport with the players. We are extremely happy to have him here.”
Clifford, who was born in Island Falls and lived in Mattawamkeag until his third-grade year when he moved with his family to Vermont, was originally named head coach on May 29, 2013, after spending 13 seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks.
Clifford led the Hornets to a 10-5 record in the month of November, marking the first 10-win November in franchise history. In his first year in Charlotte, Clifford guided the team to a playoff berth and a 43-39 record.
“As much as anything, I’m excited about the extension because it’s what I wanted to have happen,” Clifford said. “I’m appreciative to (owner) Michael Jordan, (vice chairman) Curtis Polk and Rich Cho for the opportunity to see this thing through. I feel like we’ve made good strides since I’ve been here. I like our guys and I like the team that we can become. I like the people that I work for and from a personal standpoint I’m really happy.”
Preview: Celtics at Kings
It’s Rajon Rondo reunion week for the Sacramento Kings, and the mercurial point guard will try to lead his new team to back-to-back wins over his former teams when the Kings and the Boston Celtics meet in Mexico City on Thursday (10 p.m., CSN New England). Rondo’s best game for the Dallas Mavericks came at Boston on Jan. 2, two weeks after he was traded.
The Celtics replaced Rondo with a combination of Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley at the point and the three have taken turns leading the team at both ends of the court. Bradley collected 25 points and three steals on Monday while Thomas added 16 points, nine assists and no turnovers while running the point for an injured Smart (leg). Rondo recently began looking like the player that made All-Star teams and was a nightly threat for a triple-double before injuries derailed his time in Boston, and his average of 10.7 assists leads the NBA. He went for 21 points and five assists and DeMarcus Cousins returned from a back ailment in a 112-98 win over the Mavericks on Monday.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (10-8): Nine of Boston’s 10 victories have come by double figures, and Bradley and Thomas were able to keep that string alive in Monday’s 105-95 triumph. “He’s just been pretty consistent,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters of Bradley. “… He’s just at a good level. He hit huge shots when we needed them to kind of settle us down when things weren’t going our way, and that place got rocking a little bit.” Bradley is averaging 19.4 points in 10 games since returning from a calf injury.
ABOUT THE KINGS (7-12): Cousins sat out three straight games with the back strain and has missed eight of 19 games with various injuries this season. “They’re just nagging injuries,” Cousins told reporters. “They’re kind of just part of the game. It’s just bad timing, if anything. I’ve probably got to do a better job of maintenance on my body. I’m sure that will help.” The star center struggled with his shot (10-of-24) in his return on Monday but finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and six assists.