In interviews with hometown press in Maine this week, Steve Clifford laid out just what his new job as Brooklyn Nets coaching consultant will entail: early work with the team in training camp, lots of film study and “once or twice a month” visits to Brooklyn from his home in Orlando.
The 59-year-old spoke as well about the positive “vibe” he’s seen when in Brooklyn for discussions with Steve Nash.
Clifford, whose appointment hasn’t been officially announced, had a mutual parting of ways with the Orlando Magic in June and was a free agent.
“At the end of the day, I think Jeff Weltman, our president, said it best. We just didn’t agree on how we should go forward. That was really how it ended,” Clifford said.
He chose to work with the Nets instead of pursuing a gig as an assistant or head coach elsewhere. In writing about the hire last month, ESPN’s Malika Andrews called him “the most sought-after assistant in the marketplace.”
“I’m here a lot this month and through training camp, and I’ll be more of a resource,” he said of his Brooklyn duties. “I’ll be watching a lot of film but most of the time I’ll still be living in Orlando. I’ll visit with the team once or twice a month and just take direction from Steve Nash, whatever he wants me to do...
“It’s really kind of ever-evolving,” Clifford added. “Right now, it’s we’re here for coaches meetings. Guys are in working out. It’s really planning training camp, talking about the plan for the year, watching some film to get up to par on personnel. It’s a lot of studying and meeting for discussions.”
Clifford was in Maine this weekend for his annual camp for local basketball coaches this weekend.
Known as a defensive specialist and a coach who gets his players to play hard, Clifford spent five years as the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats and Hornets and three years with the Orlando Magic until the two parted ways. Clifford took the Magic to the playoffs twice before Orlando’s ownership shifted to a rebuild. Similarly, he twice took Charlotte to the playoffs
Prior to his head coaching career, Clifford had been an assistant with the Knicks, Rockets, Magic and Lakers where he worked with Steve Nash in the 2012-13 season. Before that, he had been a head coach with NCAA programs for 15 years.
“Obviously, they had a great year last year and had some untimely injuries in the playoffs. You can tell from the vibe in the building there’s a lot of excitement for the season,” Clifford said.
Clifford is now part of a coaching staff with eight assistant coaches and player development coordinator Amar’e Stoudemire. That number doesn’t count strength and conditioning coach Dan Liburd or physical performance coach Daniel Jones.
Clifford is the fourth addition to the Nets staff this season. Brian Keefe and David Vanterpool, were named assistants to replace Ime Udoka, now the head coach in Boston, and Mike D’Antoni, now a coaching consultant with New Orleans. Kyle Korver will also be joining the club as a player development assistant coach.
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