Hornets HC James Borrego Reportedly Fired After Losing to Hawks in NBA Play-in Round

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 22, 2022

Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego calls a play during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)
AP Photo/Rusty Jones

The Charlotte Hornets made the decision to fire head coach James Borrego on Friday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Borrego spent four seasons as head coach of the Hornets, going 138-163 with no playoff appearances.

Charlotte lost in the postseason play-in tournament in each of the past two seasons, including a defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in this year's tourney.

After previous stints as an assistant with the New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs, Borrego was hired as the Hornets' head coach in 2018.

They narrowly missed the playoffs in 2018-19 with a 39-43 record before experiencing a significant drop-off to 23-42 in 2019-20 largely because of the departure of Kemba Walker.

That poor performance did net the Hornets the opportunity to land a potential franchise-altering player in the 2020 draft, however, which is when they selected guard LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 overall pick.

During Ball's rookie season, the Hornets went 33-39 and clinched a play-in spot as the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they fell 144-117 to the Indiana Pacers and were eliminated from playoff contention.

This season, the Hornets posted a winning record for the first time under Borrego, going 43-39. That would have been good enough for a playoff spot in prior years, but with the Eastern Conference improving as a whole, it only netted Charlotte the No. 10 seed.

In a win-or-go-home scenario in the play-in tournament, the Hornets were walloped 132-103 by the Hawks.

The Hornets have now missed the playoffs in each of the past six seasons, and they will look for a new head coach who they believe can get their young, talented roster over the hump.

Borrego, 44, is perhaps unlikely to land another head coaching job immediately, but he shouldn't have much issue catching on elsewhere as an assistant.

He won a pair of NBA championships during his first stint as an assistant with the Spurs from 2003 through 2010, so it isn't outside the realm of possibility that he could join Gregg Popovich's staff for a third time should Pop decide to continue coaching next season.