Hornets rookie guard James Bouknight was escorted to the locker room by team security after an altercation with coach James Borrego during Saturday’s game, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.
The incident began late in the third quarter when Miles Bridges was knocked to the ground in a collision and had to be removed from the game because he was bleeding. Borrego inserted Bouknight for the final 14 seconds of the quarter, which was the only playing time he saw all night.
After the quarter ended, Bouknight and Borrego had a “heated exchange” on the sidelines, according to Boone, and Bouknight seemed to take a step toward his coach before they were separated. He remained in the locker room for the rest of the game.
“Obviously we were all a little frustrated, all of us,” Borrego said after the 18-point loss to Miami, “in the third quarter, early fourth and it got a little emotional there. Beyond that I’ll leave it there.”
Borrego admitted that Bouknight is unhappy over a lack of playing time. The 11th pick in last year’s draft has gotten into just 25 games and is averaging 4.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per night.
“As I’ve said before he’s in a tough spot,” Borrego said. “He obviously wants to play. I get that. I understand that. Look, he’s a kid that we believe in, we trust in and we are going to find more minutes for him, more time. So I won’t get into the specifics. Just two competitors trying to help this team.”
Boone notes that the public dispute comes at an especially bad time for Charlotte, which has lost five of its last seven games and has slipped into ninth place in the East. Anxiety over Thursday’s trade deadline is adding to the tension in the locker room.
Bridges, who emphasized the need for the team to remain united, reached out to Bouknight after Saturday’s incident.
“Everybody’s been through it,” Bridges said. “When I was a rookie I wanted to play. And he’s very talented and he’s not getting in the game like he wants to. But I’m trying to explain to him that everybody’s been through that. I went through that. (LaMelo Ball’s) been through that and he was Rookie of the Year. So he’s good. I talked to him. He’s good and the Coach is good. So everything is good.”