Although Hornets owner Michael Jordan signed off on the decision to fire former head coach James Borrego, a source told Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer that president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak was the driving force behind the move.
An embarrassing 29-point play-in tournament loss to Atlanta after suffering a 27-point defeat to Indiana in last season’s play-in was one reason Kupchak decided to move on from Borrego, according to Boone. The team’s poor defense — Charlotte was ranked 22nd in the regular season and gave up 132 points to Atlanta — was another.
The players also weren’t receptive to Borrego’s messages of late, per Boone, which was likely another factor that Kupchak considered before making his judgment.
The move stunned many people around the league, including an NBA agent who represents a Hornets player.
“I’m shocked,” the agent told Boone. “I’m kind of surprised. I thought he did a good job.”
Here’s more on the Hornets:
- League sources told Boone that all of the assistant coaches who worked under Borrego will remain on staff until the new head coach is hired, and the new hire will determine whether to retain them or not.
- It’s clear that Charlotte no longer accepts losing after relieving its coach, and at minimum a playoff berth should be expected going forward. With that in mind, Matthew Stephens of The Charlotte Observer explores a few potential candidates for the opening, including former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.
- Borrego’s firing is the latest example of Jordan’s failing as an owner, argues Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer. Since Jordan became a minority partner in 2006, he has had final say in the team’s basketball operations. In that 16 year-span, the Hornets have won zero playoff series, and only made it to the postseason three times, Fowler notes.