The Charlotte Bobcats have received permission to interview Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford for their head-coaching job, a Lakers spokesman confirmed Friday.
Clifford, known for his defensive expertise, spent the previous nine seasons working for the Van Gundy brothers – first Jeff Van Gundy with the Houston Rockets, then Stan Van Gundy with the Orlando Magic.
When Stan Van Gundy’s tenure in Orlando ended, Clifford went to the Lakers to work for Mike Brown, who lost his job early this season. Brown’s replacement, Mike D’Antoni, installed Clifford as his lead assistant.
Clifford becomes the sixth known candidate to fill the opening created when the Bobcats fired Mike Dunlap last month. The others:
Former Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry and four assistants: Nate Tibbetts (Cleveland), Kelvin Sampson (Houston), Jeff Hornacek (Utah) and Elston Turner (most recently with the Suns). Rick Bonnell
Around the league
Miami: LeBron James is getting his fourth Most Valuable Player award. He will be introduced Sunday as the award winner, a source told the Associated Press. James will become the fifth player with at least four MVP awards, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.
• Dwyane Wade returned to practice after resting a sore right knee. He took part in drills for the first time since Miami’s series-clinching win Sunday at Milwaukee.
Chicago: Forward Luol Deng made it clear on Twitter that the illness that kept him out of Game 6 on Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets was far more serious than the flu.