James Borrego Finalizes Deal To Become Hornets’ Head Coach

2:28pm: The Hornets and Borrego have finalized an agreement, reports Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Reed writes that a news conference to announce the hiring is expected to happen within the next few days.

11:54am: Spurs assistant James Borrego will become the new head coach in Charlotte, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that Borrego is in the process of finalizing a deal with the Hornets.

Borrego began his NBA coaching career with the Spurs, spending seven seasons with the team from 2003 to 2010 before joining the Pelicans (then-Hornets) for two years and the Magic for three. He returned to San Antonio in 2015. Primarily an assistant over the course of his career, Borrego earned his lone head coaching experience in 2015 in Orlando, leading the Magic to a 10-20 record as Jacque Vaughn‘s interim replacement.

Despite his limited experience leading a team, Borrego’s years working under Gregg Popovich made him a popular coaching candidate this offseason. Borrego interviewed with the Knicks and Suns before they decided to hire David Fizdale and Igor Kokoskov, respectively. He also received reported interest from the Hawks and Bucks.

While Borrego didn’t gain serious traction as a candidate in New York or Phoenix, he was considered one of the two frontrunners for the Hornets’ job, along with Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga. Both veteran assistants reportedly had second interviews with Charlotte within the last few days — team owner Michael Jordan was said to be involved in those meetings.

Borrego will take over for Steve Clifford in Charlotte. Clifford, who was fired shortly after the 2017/18 regular season ended, had been the NBA’s seventh-longest-tenured head coach. He led the Hornets to a 196-214 record (.478) and a pair of playoff berths during his five years on the sidelines.

In addition to making a coaching change this spring, the Hornets also have a new head of basketball operations in place. After parting ways with general manager Rich Cho earlier this year, Charlotte hired Mitch Kupchak as the club’s new GM and president of basketball ops. Kupchak led a head coaching search that also saw candidates like Ettore Messina, Ime Udoka, David Vanterpool, Jim Boylen, Nick Nurse, and Jerry Stackhouse receive consideration.

According to Wojnarowski, Borrego made a strong impression during his initial meeting with Kupchak, and the GM became more intrigued by the Spurs assistant once he began canvassing executives, coaches, and players who had worked with Borrego.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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17 thoughts on “James Borrego Finalizes Deal To Become Hornets’ Head Coach

  1. D-NBA

    This dude has so much experience under Pop he is going to be amazing for the Hornets. It’s time to build around Malik Monk and Willy Hernangomez. Trade Kemba,Dwight, and Batum and load up on picks.

      • NOPelicanFangirl696969

        Im sure a team like cleveland would take dhoward. But yeah nobody wants batum

        • I saw Batum play this year and he looked good. He can still shoot The Rock, has good size, plays good D on the wing. Is it because he has a big contract nobody wants him?

      • mgraub00

        We could find a taker for Dwight but probably not Batum. He’s the perfect amnesty candidate but there’s no longer an amnesty provision in the new CBA. Dwight was not Charlotte’s problem last year ironically, which is why they could find a taker if they ate enough of the contract.
        They do need to decide whether they need to trade Kemba as part of a rebuild or if they’re going to offer him the max to stay while the rebuild occurs.
        Curious about this hire. Great assistant resume. Curious why he left San Antonio the first time and why he came back. Not saying he won’t do well. There is no one you would rather study under than Pop.

        • Hornet Buc

          There is no rebuild. Rebuild is when you have young players and good contracts. We don’t have that. We need to just get that out of our vocabulary. We have 5 heavy contracts that most likely we can’t move and if we did probably only 1. Let’s be realistic only tradable players are lamb and Frank. MAYBEEEEE we get somebody to bite on Cody. If we trade those 3 and let MCW Graham and obviously Stone walk we would have done good. Our pick this yr is HUGEEEEEE and we can’t miss on it

      • D-NBA

        Been watching him since Kentucky, I love his quick release and ability to get hot from 3.

        • acarneglia

          But can’t do anything outside of that. Can’t make plays, can’t rebound, undersized for an SG.

          • Exactly. And he’s a little undersized as a shooting guard. The only guy I know that’s a fantastic 6-3 shooting guard who gets by on his scoring and has no point guard skills is Eric Gordon.

          • D-NBA

            Can’t make plays? Did you not see him towards the end of the season? He’s lightning quick and has a insanely quick release and is super quick with the ball, he’ll have a better career then Eric Gordon. I can guarantee you that.

  2. Jon L

    This might be crazy but if Becky Hammond and Etore Messina also leave, with the Kawhi drama, aging roster, and return of juggernauts in GSW and HOU, not to mention whatever craziness happens in the off season to make the West stronger…would Pop want to return/coach again? I really hope he does but boy there are a lot of reasons for him not to.

    • Tramore

      Don’t forget Ime Udoka could also be some other teams head coach next season. With All of his players and assistant coaches leaving, he might think it’s time to throw in the towel.

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