Top 3 HC Options for LaMelo Ball, Hornets After James Borrego Reportedly Fired

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 22, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel in the first half of an basketball game Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

James Borrego paid a steep price for the Charlotte Hornets' 132-103 defeat to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in tournament.

The Hornets announced Friday they fired the head coach.

Borrego ultimately finishes with a losing record (148-183) in Charlotte but guided the Hornets to 43 wins in 2021-22. That that wasn't good enough to save Borrego's job certainly sends a message about the organization's aspirations.

Ownership and the front office may prefer to pivot to a head coach with a proven track record in the NBA. If that's the case, then Frank Vogel immediately leaps out as a possible candidate given his success with the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers.

Should the Utah Jazz suffer another disappointment in the postseason, head coach Quin Snyder could perhaps contemplate a move elsewhere. Should the 55-year-old look for an exit plan, he'd presumably be a prime target for the Hornets, who have interviewed him before.

Before they hired Borrego, Charlotte took a long look at Jay Larranaga, who's now on the Los Angeles Clippers staff. The 47-year-old could be in line for another chance at the gig.

Beyond the fact they have multiple playoff trips on their resume, Vogel and Snyder would align with addressing the Hornets' biggest need. Charlotte finished 22nd in defensive rating (113.1), per NBA.com, and that simply isn't good enough for a team looking to qualify for the postseason. 

At The Hive @At_The_Hive

You'd have to think the Hornets will be looking for someone with a strong defensive resume to replace JB. Team's defense ranked no better than 19th in JB's 4 years here. Personnel has a lot to do with that, but we've seen coaches scheme good defenses regardless of players.

That's not all on Borrego because he isn't the one who assembled a roster that positioned Mason Plumlee as the starting center.

He also didn't sign Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120 million contract. Hayward is averaging 17.6 points and shooting 40.2 percent from three-point range with the Hornets but has appeared in just 93 games over the last two seasons.

Julian Council @JulianCouncil

It’s a combination of a major roster hole at center (possibly the worst center rotation in the NBA) + injuries (Hayward) + god awful defense + bad luck (finishing with 43 wins yet being the 10 seed) that has the Hornets where they are today and plenty of its fans disappointed.

Selecting LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 overall pick in 2020 is something the front office certainly did right, and the immediate impact Ball made might have accelerated the organization's timeline.

Miles Bridges has emerged as a solid No. 2 option as well and is poised to collect a huge contract this offseason as a restricted free agent.

Perhaps Borrego took the Hornets as far as he can, and a new voice in the locker room raises the organization's ceiling.

Hiring the right head coach could take Charlotte higher than it has been in years. Swinging and missing, on the other hand, would be a massive setback with significant ramifications.