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2017-18 Hornets Season Review: Steve Clifford and Rich Cho

This season did not go as planned for Rich Cho or Steve Clifford, who both ended up losing their jobs at the end of the season.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets had a rocky season. From start to finish, the consistency was never there. This inevitably caused a long, painful breakdown of the Charlotte Hornets’ front office.

Rich Cho took a chance last offseason. That chance was Dwight Howard. The Hornets packaged Marco Belinelli and Miles Plumlee for the then-Atlanta Hawks big man. This was in an attempt to bring the Hornets back to the playoffs after a lackluster 36-46 season the year before. The night after the trade was made, Cho made the decision to pick Malik Monk, a small, explosive guard out of the University of Kentucky. At the time, both acquisitions seemed like the surefire correct thing to do. And to some fans, they still seem like the right decisions.

However, they didn’t result in wins, and Cho was terminated near the end of the season. This firing was the result of two mediocre seasons in a row, and likely many more to come because of the 2016 offseason spending spree, in which Cho re-signed Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to sizable contract extensions.

All in all, Cho didn’t make any horrible decisions, per se. He acquired a franchise center and two rotational players in Monk and Dwayne Bacon who will hopefully be with the team for years to come. His firing simply was the result of many of these decisions not working out as well as they could have.


Steve Clifford is a spectacular NBA coach. However, this was not a season to remember for him. At the beginning of the season, Clifford called this Charlotte Hornets team the most talented that he has coached. He seemed to be enamored with the offseason moves that Cho had made. The season started off well for Clifford’s Hornets. Charlotte started 5-3 and held the fifth seed within the first ten games of the season, despite missing Batum.

That is when things started to take a turn. Charlotte lost six games in a row, struggling to get through November. Then, on December 1st, the team announced that Clifford would be taking a medical leave of absence. This leave lasted 21 games and was caused by severe headaches brought on by sleep deprivation.

When he returned, things didn’t get much better for the struggling Hornets. They finished the season with a lackadaisical 36-46 record, the exact same amount of wins that they had one year prior. Just days after the season ended, Steve Clifford was fired. This would end his five-year stint as Charlotte Hornets head coach, in which Clifford had a total record of 196-214.

Looking back on this season, it’s fairly obvious this season did not end the way that Cho and Clifford wanted it to. They were both terminated, and now it looks as if Charlotte will go through a re-tooling period.