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Charlotte Hornets hire Celtics assistant coach Charles Lee as their next head coach

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Hornets have named Charles Lee as their next head coach.

Lee, 39, joins the Hornets after serving as the Boston Celtics’ top assistant coach. Lee will complete the Celtics’ playoff run before joining the Hornets full-time. Lee spent five seasons under Mike Budenholzer before joining the Celtics last summer.

Lee replaces Steve Clifford, who announced before the end of the regular season that he would step down as Hornets coach after two seasons in his second stint with the club. The Hornets finished 21-61 this season and were tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for the third-worst record in the league.

“The Hornets have a talented young core of players and I am excited about our future and what we can build here,” Lee said. “There are few places as passionate about basketball as the Carolinas, and I look forward to coming to Charlotte and getting to work.”

Lee inherits a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in eight seasons, the longest drought in the league. Charlotte hasn’t won a playoff series in 22 years, a span that spanned more than a decade with NBA great Michael Jordan as owner.

Jordan sold the Hornets last year to Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin.

The co-owners have since been busy replacing general manager Mitch Kupchak – who also resigned – with Jeff Peterson.

Lee will oversee the reconstruction along with Peterson.

“His high character and ability to connect with players while creating a culture of accountability will serve us well as we build a competitive team built for long-term success,” Peterson said in a statement. press release. “Charles comes from a championship background with a wide range of basketball knowledge and NBA experience, has a great work ethic and is a great communicator. He shares our vision for this organization and I look forward to working with him to build something special here in the Carolinas.

The Hornets traded Gordon Hayward to Oklahoma City, Terry Rozier to Miami and PJ Washington to Dallas before the deadline in moves that brought Tre Mann, Vasa Micic, Grant Williams, Seth Curry and Davis Bertans to Charlotte.

The Hornets have some young talent to build around, including last year’s second overall pick Brandon Miller, 2022 All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball and center Mark Williams, although the latter two have struggled to stay on the court due to injuries. Miller averaged 17.3 points per game as a rookie while shooting 37% from three-point range.