Lakers assistant coach candidate profile: Steve Clifford
This is the third post in a series looking at potential Lakers assistant coaches. Assistant coach Quin Snyder and team consultant Ettore Messina took coaching jobs with CSKA Moscow, a highly successful Euroleague team. CSNNW.com’s Chris Haynes has reported that Lakers Coach Mike Brown will hire Steve Clifford for the coaching staff.
Background: Clifford first started out in the NBA ranks as an advance scout for the New York Knicks (2000-01) before moving up as an assistant coach (2001-03) under Don Nelson. He then worked as an assistant for Jeff Van Gundy with the Houston Rockets (2003-2007) and for Stan Van Gundy with the Orlando Magic (2007-2012).
Prior to his professional coaching experience, Clifford spent more than a decade in college coaching. That included a four-year stint as Adelphi’s head coach, where he became the first coach in school history to have consecutive 20-win seasons. Clifford also guided Adelphi to NCAA Division II tournament appearances in all four years. Clifford also had assistant coaching gigs at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire, Fairfeld University, Boston University and Siena College.
Style: According to Haynes’ report, Clifford models himself after Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau and considers both the Van Gundy brothers as mentors. While Clifford was an assistant the past four years, the Magic finished in the top 10 defensively each season.
That should come in handy with the Lakers for two reasons. Clifford’s attention to defense matches Brown’s coaching expertise. Clifford also already has experience working with Dwight Howard. Clifford was often viewed in his assistant coaching roles as both a mentor and teacher.
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