Could another coach with Long Island ties be joining the list of candidates to replace Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek?
Former Knicks assistant Steve Clifford became available Friday when he was fired by the Charlotte Hornets after five seasons as head coach. Clifford was the head coach at Adelphi in Garden City for four seasons (1995-99) before joining the Knicks under coach Jeff Van Gundy. Clifford, who made the playoffs in two of his first three years with the team, spent 13 years as an assistant with the Knicks, Rockets, Magic and Lakers before taking the Charlotte head job in 2013.
Former Hofstra coach and current Villanova coach Jay Wright has also been listed as a possible candidate for the Knicks job. Wright, who has won national championships in two out of the last three years, has been linked to jobs before but has never shown serious interest in leaving Villanova.
With Clifford’s firing, the field of teams looking for a new head coach is growing increasingly crowded. Charlotte now joins Orlando, the Knicks, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Memphis looking for head coaches. Joe Prunty is serving as the Bucks’ interim head coach after Jason Kidd was fired in January. The Bucks begin the playoffs on Sunday against the Celtics.
The Hornets went 36-46 this season and were 196-214 under Clifford, who had a year left on his contract. New general manager Mitch Kupchak, who played basketball at Brentwood High School, announced Clifford’s firing.
“I want to thank Coach Clifford for his contributions to the Hornets,” Kupchak said in a statement. “I know he has worked incredibly hard on behalf of the organization and we wish him the best moving forward. The search for a new coach will begin immediately.”