As the Orlando Magic move toward a full rebuilding process, coach Steve Clifford and the franchise have agreed to separate, the team announced Saturday.
Clifford, who led the Magic to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons before this year, had several meetings with management in recent weeks that ultimately led to a “mutual decision” to part ways, sources said.
In the end, the Magic rebuild timelines and Clifford’s station were no longer aligned.
The Magic will begin a coach search immediately, joining the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers with current openings.
Magic president Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond signed Clifford upon arriving in Orlando three years ago in the hopes that he would lead the franchise to the playoffs, and he did so twice before two injuries. Starters and trades of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and point guard Evan Fournier at the deadline for multiple future draft picks changed the trajectory of the franchise.
Clifford, 59, had one season left on his original four-year contract, sources told ESPN.
He finishes 96-131 in his three years in Orlando, including two playoff seasons. Orlando was 21-51 this season.
Clifford has made the playoffs four times in eight seasons between his two head coaching jobs in Charlotte and Orlando.