Steve Clifford
Steve Clifford’s return to the sidelines can’t come soon enough for the floundering Hornets (Hornets/Twitter)

After a moderately hopeful start to their 2017-18 campaign, the Charlotte Hornets have really begun to plummet down the Eastern Conference standings recently. Though point guard Kemba Walker is still playing at a borderline All-Star level, the absence of head coach Steve Clifford isn’t helping matters.

Clifford has been away from the Hornets since December 6th for medical reasons that were never revealed. Over that span, the Hornets posted a pedestrian 6-11 as they now sit well out of the playoff picture with a 15-24 mark on the season.

Clifford’s absence was expected to be for ‘the immediate future’ but the 56-year-old coach may make his return to the sideline within coming days. The team announced that Clifford has been medically cleared to return to coaching:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that Head Coach Steve Clifford has been medically cleared to return to coaching the team on a full-time basis. Clifford will officially re-join the team starting with practice on Tuesday, Jan. 16, before returning to the sidelines on Wednesday, Jan. 17, vs. the Washington Wizards. He has been away from the team since Dec. 6 to address his health. Hornets Associate Head Coach Stephen Silas served as the team’s acting head coach while Clifford was out.

As stated, Steve Clifford’s return will come on January 17th against the Washington Wizards. This means the team will still have 3 contests to play without Clifford in the meantime against the Jazz, Thunder, and Pistons.

Though injury issues have also played a role in the downward spiral for the Hornets, it’s fair to say Clifford’s absence was also a factor. The team will look to turn things around and get out of this hole they’ve built for themselves with Clifford’s return to the helm looming.

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