Steve Clifford out as Orlando Magic coach after 3 seasons

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FILE - In this April 4, 2021, file photo, Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford directs his team in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Denver. Clifford will not be back as coach of the Magic next season, a person with direct knowledge of the decision said Saturday, June 5, 2021. The decision was mutual, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the move had not been publicly announced. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

MIAMI – Steve Clifford and the Orlando Magic took some time after the season to rest, recover and contemplate the future.

And after a couple weeks, they decided the fit wasn't right anymore.

Orlando's rebuilding project will no longer include Clifford, after he and the Magic completed an agreement Saturday to end his three-year run with the club. Magic President Jeff Weltman stressed that it was a mutual decision and he respected Clifford for being able to “assess where he is in his career."

“Obviously, we've repositioned our team," Weltman said. “And so, there has to be alignment. There has to be alignment in everything you do in this league. And if there's not alignment, it'll undermine everything."

That alignment clearly didn't seem to be there. Weltman indicated that Clifford — who will turn 60 before next season starts — decided he wasn't the right coach to lead the Magic through what may be serious growing pains with a young group.

“The ‘why' is quite simple here: alignment," Weltman said. “And if Cliff is questioning whether the positioning of our team kind of aligns with his own career positioning, then he's probably not the right guy at that point. I appreciate the fact that Cliff can look himself in the mirror and have those conversations with himself because I don't think a whole lot of people can do that."

Orlando becomes the third current coaching opening in the NBA, following Brad Stevens being promoted to president of the Boston Celtics and Portland’s move Friday to seek a new coach after Terry Stotts held that role for nine seasons.

Jobs coming open didn't affect the Magic timetable, Weltman said. He also didn't say if the team has a target date for a hire. For now, the assistant coaches — a group that includes Ty Corbin, Steve Hetzel and Pat Delany — remain in place, and it wouldn't be surprising if some got at least a meeting with the Magic during the interview process.