Hornets head coach Steve Clifford returning to sideline after extended medical absence

The Charlotte Hornets announced on Thursday that head coach Steve Clifford will return to the sideline next week after an extended absence for an undisclosed medical issue.

The Hornets expect Clifford to return to practice next Tuesday and be on the sideline for Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards.

Steve Clifford is returning to the Charlotte sideline after an extended absence to address his health. (AP)

Clifford left the Hornets on Dec. 6 indefinitely “to address his health,” the team announced. Neither Clifford nor the Hornets have elaborated on what caused him to miss time. He initially missed a Dec. 4 game against the Orlando Magic, citing illness, before the team announced the extended leave.

“Out of respect for Clifford’s privacy, the Hornets will have no further comment at this time,” a team statement read.

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Clifford had two stents inserted into his heart in 2013, his first year in Charlotte. He missed multiple games as a result. There have been no reports that his latest absence is heart related.

The Hornets were off to a 9-13 start and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference when Clifford left in December. They remain in 11th place with a 15-24 record. Assistant head coach Stephen Silas has acted as head coach in Clifford’s absence.