James Borrego

James Borrego To Be Pelicans’ Associate Head Coach

Former Hornets head coach James Borrego will join the Pelicans as associate head coach under Willie Green, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Borrego and Green have worked together before, notes Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Borrego was an assistant in New Orleans when Green played there in 2010/11, and he served as an assistant in Orlando during Green’s final season as an NBA player in 2014/15.

The 45-year-old Borrego was reportedly one of the leading contenders for the Rockets’ head coaching vacancy and was among the candidates the Bucks considered to replace Mike Budenholzer. He drew a lot of interest as an assistant coach as well, with Houston, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Dallas among the teams that reportedly wanted him to join their staffs.

The Pelicans also considered Kevin Ollie, one of the finalists for the Pistons’ head coaching job, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Ollie is reportedly taking an assistant role on the Nets’ staff.

Jarron Collins, another top candidate for the Detroit vacancy, will also return to Green’s staff for next season, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.

Borrego spent four years as head coach in Charlotte before being fired in 2022. He compiled a 138-163 record with the Hornets and took the team to two play-in appearances. He also went 10-20 as interim coach of the Magic in 2015.

Bucks Rumors: Griffin, Borrego, Stotts, Assistants

Although he has yet to officially put pen to paper, new head coach Adrian Griffin has already been with the Bucks for the past week as they prepare for the draft and offseason, according to Eric Nehm and Shams Charania of The Athletic, who report that Griffin will receive a multiyear deal worth about $4MM annually.

As Nehm and Charania write, Griffin holds experience as a player and was an assistant for 15 seasons, but he’s a first-time head coach. That means assistant coaches with head coaching experience might be prioritized.

Former Hornets head coach James Borrego and former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts are a couple of names to watch, per Nehm and Charania. The Athletic’s duo notes that Griffin had defensive game plan responsibilities with Toronto, so it would make sense to complement him with offensive coaches.

Borrego, who was actually expected to interview for Milwaukee’s job, interviewed for the coaching vacancy in Houston and was reportedly a finalist before the Rockets decided to hire Ime Udoka. He has also been linked to assistant jobs in Brooklyn and Dallas.

Stotts, who was with Portland for nine years (2012-21), has interviewed for head coaching jobs since he was fired and has been rumored to be a candidate for other teams as an assistant, including the Mavs.

As Nehm and Charania detail, a few Bucks assistant coaches have already announced they’re leaving the organization following Mike Budenholzer‘s dismissal, but the fates of several others remain up in the air even though they’re currently employed. According to The Athletic, GM Jon Horst acknowledged that the coaching staff was in flux last month, with more assistants possibly finding opportunities elsewhere.

I have a ton of respect for all of this group,” Horst said. “I think we have one of the best supporting coaching groups in the NBA and I would hope if they’re still with us when we make the next hire, that they’ll get consideration from that hire. That’ll be part of that process.

I also expect a number of these guys will have other opportunities across the league. And if they do, I have great relationships with everyone, we’ll have an open line of communication as we already do and I’ll support them in that way too.”

Bucks Expected To Interview Atkinson, Borrego, Lee, Others

The Bucks have been granted permission to meet with Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson about their open head coaching job, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Wojnarowski, Milwaukee’s own assistant Charles Lee and former Hornets head coach James Borrego are among the other candidates expected to interview with the Bucks as they seek a replacement for Mike Budenholzer. The team’s search will extend beyond those three candidates and will include additional interviews, Woj adds.

Atkinson, Lee, and Borrego have been popular candidates for teams seeking a new head coach this spring. Atkinson and Borrego both met with the Rockets before they hired Ime Udoka, and Atkinson was reportedly set to interview with Toronto as well. Lee, meanwhile, interviewed with the Raptors and is considered a finalist for the Pistons’ open position.

[RELATED: 2023 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Atkinson and Borrego have previous head coaching experience, while Lee has served as an assistant under Budenholzer since 2014, first in Atlanta and then in Milwaukee. Atkinson coached the Nets from 2016-20; Borrego coached the Hornets from 2018-22. Like Lee, Atkinson previously worked on Budenholzer’s staff with the Hawks.

Wojnarowski previously speculated that the Bucks’ wish list could include at least one candidate who is currently the head coach of another NBA team, which is a rumor that Eric Nehm of The Athletic has heard as well. However, it’s unclear which coach(es) those reports might be referring to.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Harden, Borrego, Nets

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who finished fourth in Most Valuable Player voting this season, was motivated on Friday night by watching Joel Embiid receive his MVP trophy before Game 3 of the Sixers/Celtics series in Philadelphia, writes Jamal Collier of ESPN.

It wasn’t exactly Hakeem Olajuwon dominating David Robinson and the Spurs following Robinson’s MVP ceremony in 1995, but Tatum led the Celtics to a 114-102 win in Game 3, scoring a team-high 27 points and helping Boston reclaim home-court advantage in the series.

“It just got me really ready to play,” Tatum said of the pregame ceremony, per Collier. “You could feel the energy from the crowd and the building. I’m happy for (Embiid). He earned it, he deserved it, but I was just focused on trying to win tonight.”

In addition to his 27 points, Tatum grabbed a team-best 10 rebounds, handed out five assists, and had a a pair of steals and a block, earning praise from his teammates for a “superstar” performance.

“He played a terrific game all around, but he finished a tough game on the road in a hostile environment for us,” Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “That’s what superstars do.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • After scoring 45 points on 17-of-30 shooting in Game 1, James Harden has totaled just 28 points on 5-of-28 shooting in his last two games, both Sixers losses. Embiid wants to see his star teammate be more assertive on offense going forward, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I mean, you just talk to him and you keep telling him to keep shooting,” Embiid said after Friday’s loss. “Be aggressive. Can’t get too high, can’t get too low. Some nights you’re going to make lots of other shots, a lot of tough ones, and some nights you’re not going to make them. So it’s about finding other ways to impact the game.”
  • After Marc Stein suggested that the Nets could be one of the teams with interest in James Borrego as an assistant coach, a league source confirms to NetsDaily that Brooklyn is “100%” in on pursuing Borrego for a spot on Jacque Vaughn‘s staff. The Nets, who are parting ways with multiple assistant coaches, also expressed interest in Borrego last year, per NetsDaily.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscription required) poses four questions for the Nets to answer this offseason, including what their long-term plan is at point guard and what the cost will be to re-sign restricted free agent Cameron Johnson.

Stein’s Latest: Hart, Pistons, Brooks, Borrego, Raptors, Lee

Knicks forward Josh Hart is “generating no shortage of chatter” as his free agency nears, Marc Stein writes at Substack. Hart holds a player option for 2023/24, but is expected to turn it down in favor of a more lucrative multiyear deal.

While there would certainly be many teams around the NBA interested in making a play for Hart if he’s truly available, Stein hasn’t talked to a rival team that views the 28-year-old as “gettable.” According to Stein, potential suitors for Hart view it as inevitable that the CAA client will re-sign with the Knicks, whose front office is run by former CAA head of basketball Leon Rose.

The Knicks will hold Hart’s Bird rights entering the offseason, giving them the ability to re-sign him for any amount up to the maximum without regard for cap room.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • According to Stein, the Pistons have been mentioned to him more than once as a team to keep an eye on for free agent forward Dillon Brooks this summer. Detroit is expected to have a chunk of cap room available and will likely be in the market for help on the wing.
  • Having previously reported that former head coach James Borrego is drawing interest from Dallas for a spot on Jason Kidd‘s staff, Stein says there are other teams interested in hiring Borrego as an assistant coach, including the Pelicans. Stein identifies the Rockets and Nets as two more teams that may pursue Borrego, noting that both Ime Udoka and Jacque Vaughn have previously worked with Borrego.
  • The Raptors interviewed Bucks assistant Charles Lee for their head coaching position on Thursday, league sources tell Stein (Twitter link). ESPN previously reported that Toronto met with Lee, who is also in the mix for the head coaching opening in Detroit and could emerge as a candidate in Milwaukee if the Bucks are willing to consider an in-house replacement for Mike Budenholzer.

Stein’s Latest: Bridges, Udoka, Raptors, Mavericks, Silas

Rival front offices are expecting Miles Bridges to re-sign with the Hornets this summer, Marc Stein states in his latest Substack article. Bridges, who will be suspended for the first 10 games of next season, didn’t play this year after being charged with felony domestic abuse for a June 2022 incident. Stein adds that in announcing the suspension, commissioner Adam Silver cited a mutual agreement between league officials and Bridges’ representatives at Klutch Sports that resulted in him sitting out the 2022/23 season.

Stein notes that Charlotte has a June 29 deadline to tender a $7.7MM qualifying offer that will make him a restricted free agent. One indication of Bridges’ possible intentions, Stein adds, is an online photo of himself that he recently posted wearing Hornets gear during a workout.

Bridges was expected to be one of the top names on the 2022 free agent market before the domestic abuse case. He became a full-time starter during his fourth NBA season and averaged 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 80 games.

There’s more from Stein:

  • Ime Udoka, who was hired as the Rockets‘ new head coach last week, was on a similar hiatus from the league. Udoka was suspended for the season by the Celtics following an affair with a subordinate, and although there was no official punishment from the NBA, the league office agreed with the way Boston handled the situation, Stein adds. “The Celtics decided that he should be suspended for a year,” Silver said. “We reviewed that and determined it was fair under those circumstances. And then when other teams — and it wasn’t just the Rockets — asked us if he would be able to coach next season, we said he would be.” 
  • The Raptors had interest in hiring Udoka to replace Nick Nurse, but they intended to conduct a thorough coaching search that would last well into May, sources tell Stein. When the Rockets made a four-year offer reportedly worth $28.5MM, Udoka thought it was best to take that opportunity.
  • The Mavericks are expected to consider James Borrego and Jeff Hornacek for openings on Jason Kidd‘s staff. Stein adds that Frank Vogel would be a logical addition because Kidd worked for him with the Lakers, but Vogel is still pursuing head coaching opportunities. Stein mentions former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts as another possibility for Dallas.
  • The Celtics would like to hire ex-Rockets head coach Stephen Silas as an assistant to Joe Mazzulla next season, sources tell Stein. Silas was seen in Boston last week at Game 5 of the first-round series with Atlanta.

Fischer’s Latest: Green, Middleton, Budenholzer, Raptors

The Rockets are ready to move past the rebuilding stage and may be willing to include Jalen Green in an offseason trade for veteran help, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Fischer notes that new head coach Ime Udoka, general manager Rafael Stone and owner Tilman Fertitta all mentioned the team’s available cap space — which could be in the $60MM range — during Udoka’s introductory news conference this week.

The Rockets are determined to upgrade their roster, whether it’s through free agency or the trade market. There have been long-running rumors that Sixers guard James Harden is interested in a return to Houston, and Fischer hears that Bucks wing Khris Middleton was mentioned as another possibility during discussions with coaching candidates. Harden and Middleton both hold player options for next season — Harden is considered likely to opt out and Middleton is a candidate to do so too.

Fischer points out that Udoka was an assistant in Brooklyn when Harden arrived there. He has obviously worked closely with another potential target, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, who may be made available when he becomes eligible for an extension this offseason.

Green averaged 22.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists during his second NBA season, but he continues to be plagued by efficiency questions, as he shot just 41.6% from the field and 33.8% from three-point range. He was billed as a potential scoring champion when the Rockets drafted him in 2021, but it appears the organization may no longer be content to wait for the development of Green and its other young players.

Here are several more rumors from Fischer:

  • Nick Nurse was considered to be a strong candidate in the Rockets‘ coaching search after he parted ways with the Raptors last week, but he never figured into the team’s interview process. Fischer states that former Lakers coach Frank Vogel and ex-Hornets coach James Borrego were the other leading contenders along with Udoka.
  • Mike Budenholzer‘s job may be in jeopardy after the Bucks‘ early playoff exit, but Fischer doesn’t believe a coaching change is a sure thing. He notes that the push to replace Budenholzer before Milwaukee won the title two years ago largely came from co-owner Marc Lasry, who sold his stake in the team earlier this month. Fischer also points out that assistant Darvin Ham would have been a leading contender to replace Budenholzer at the time, but he has gone on to become head coach of the Lakers. Current assistant Charles Lee is a finalist for the opening in Detroit, and Fischer isn’t convinced that Milwaukee will make a coaching move without an obvious replacement for Budenholzer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Raptors are planning a thorough coaching search that may extend through the draft combine in mid-May. Several potential candidates were reported Thursday night, and Fischer hears that former Toronto assistant Sergio Scariolo, who runs the Spanish national team, could get an interview as well. Scariolo currently coaches Virtus Bologna in Italy.

Western Notes: Lindsey, Udoka, Borrego, Westbrook, Holmgren, Blazers, Towns

The Mavericks are in advanced discussions with former Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey to join the organization as a special assistant to GM Nico Harrison, Marc Stein of the Stein Line reports (via Twitter). Harrison has been seeking an experienced sounding-board voice to join the front office in a consultant’s role, dating to last offseason.

Following their failure to make the playoffs, the Mavericks have a pivotal offseason that includes trying to re-sign Kyrie Irving and finding ways to improve the roster, despite limited trade assets and salary cap issues.

We have more on the Western Conference:

  • The Rockets will interview former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka for their head coaching job on Wednesday, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets. They interviewed former Hornets head coach James Borrego on Monday for their head coaching job, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. The Rockets have already interviewed former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and are expected to interview a number of experienced head coaches and prominent assistant coaches in their search to replace Stephen Silas.
  • Russell Westbrook is unlikely to be suspended for Game 2 of the Clippers’ series against the Suns, Chris Haynes of TNT tweets. Westbrook had a verbal altercation with a fan during halftime of Game 1 on Sunday.
  • Chet Holmgren missed the entire season due to a Lisfranc injury in his right foot but the Thunder big man is ready to get back on the court, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, says most of the recovery and rehab process is behind him. “I’m pretty much past the rehab part of this journey,” Holmgren said, “and now I’m progressing more into the 5-on-5 stuff and kind of taking away any restrictions that I have to this point.”
  • There could be a major change with the Trail Blazers’ guard rotation, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian notes. General manager Joe Cronin must decide whether Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe are part of the team’s long-term plans. Either or both could be traded for the All-Star level talent that Damian Lillard craves. Conversely, Simons and Sharpe could be the backcourt starters if Lillard is dealt and Portland goes into a full rebuild.
  • The Timberwolves will look to bounce back from their 29-point loss to top seed Denver when they play Game 2 on Wednesday. They’ll need a huge series from Karl-Anthony Towns to have any chance in the series, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details.
  • The matchup against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets could show just how far the Timberwolves are from becoming a true contender and whether the Towns-Rudy Gobert pairing can get them to that point, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune opines.

Southwest Notes: Adams, Lofton, McCollum, Vogel, Borrego

Grizzlies center Steven Adams has slowly progressed during his recovery from a sprained right knee, which is why he’s likely to sit out the postseason, coach Taylor Jenkins told Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“We thought we were making headway with the process and all that, but each evaluation we had with the doctors kind of revealed it’s not progressing like we need it to. … No setbacks, no reinjuries, it was just not progressing to a level,” the Grizzlies’ head coach said. “Obviously some unfortunate news, but that’s why we’re going to try to do everything possible to try to get the best decision possible for him.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Due to Adams’ injury, the Grizzlies wound up signing G League Rookie of the Year Kenneth Lofton Jr. to a standard contract. It wasn’t a given, Cole tweets. Jenkins said the Grizzlies did their “due diligence” on bringing in a free agent big man for the playoffs, but ultimately decided to reward Lofton for how well he’s played and his knowledge of the system.
  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum will undergo right thumb surgery next week, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. McCollum, who previously revealed the injury and the likelihood of surgery, said it’s been an issue for several months. McCollum also indicated his shoulder has bothered him in recent games and he’ll have it evaluated, Will Guillory of The Athletic adds in another tweet.
  • Frank Vogel, the Lakers’ head coach during their championship run in the Orlando bubble in 2020, was interviewed for the Rockets’ head coach position on Wednesday, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets. The Rockets are interviewing a number of former head coaches, as well as some prominent assistants, for the job.
  • In a separate piece, Iko takes a closer look at whether former Hornets coach James Borrego would be a good fit as the Rockets’ head coach. Iko spoke at length with former Hornets assistant Nick Friedman to get a better feel for Borrego’s coaching style.

Rockets Set To Interview Kenny Atkinson, Adrian Griffin, Others

The Rockets aren’t wasting any time seeking out a replacement for former head coach Stephen Silas, whose team option for 2023/24 was declined on Monday.

Houston has sought and received permission to interview Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), and was also granted permission to meet with Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).

In addition to Atkinson and Griffin, the Rockets are securing permission to interview Suns associate head coach Kevin Young, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter).

Houston is also in the process of scheduling meetings with former NBA head coaches Ime Udoka, Frank Vogel, and James Borrego, with Raptors coach Nick Nurse expected to be another top target if he becomes available, says Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Multiple reports have indicated that the Rockets are expected to meet with about eight or nine candidates as they look to replace Silas. Not counting Nurse, the team’s list of interviewees is already at six names. Trail Blazers assistant Scott Brooks was previously identified as a candidate too, though there’s no word yet on the club lining up a meeting with him.

There has been speculation that the Rockets will look for a more experienced candidate during their latest head coaching search, but not all of their candidates fit that bill. While Atkinson, Udoka, Vogel, and Borrego have previously served as head coaches, Griffin and Young would be first-timers.

It’s worth noting that Atkinson tentatively accepted the Hornets’ head coaching position a year ago before backing out of that agreement and staying in Golden State. If he emerges as the Rockets’ top target, the team would obviously look to avoid a repeat of that situation. Additionally, Houston will have to do plenty of background work on Udoka, whose Celtics exit was related to an extramarital affair he had with a member of the organization.

Feigen previously reported that the Rockets would likely begin conducting interviews before the end of this week.