Orlando Magic, coach Clifford part ways

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The rebuilding Orlando Magic and coach Steve Clifford have mutually agreed to part ways after three NBA seasons.

"We would like to thank Steve for his contributions to the Orlando Magic," team president Jeff Weltman said.

"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."

Clifford, 59, rejoined the Magic as their head coach in May 2018, one month after being let go by the Charlotte Hornets. He had one year left on a four-year deal he signed at the time.

He had served as an assistant to former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy from 2007-12.

Clifford guided the Magic back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 in his first season at the helm. They reached the playoffs again in his second season, but both times were eliminated in the first round.

"It's been an honour and privilege to coach this team in this community," Clifford said in a statement.

This season, the Magic's record fell to 21-51 and they elected to trade star centre Nikola Vucevic, guard Evan Fournier and forward Aaron Gordon to begin a rebuild.

Overall, Clifford's Magic teams were 96-131 in his three seasons. Clifford had a 196-214 record during his time with the Hornets.

Orlando becomes the third NBA team searching for a new head coach, joining the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers.