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The Charlotte Hornets have fired head coach James Borrego

While the decision is understandable given results, there appears to be more that’s in need of change in Charlotte than just the coach.

Paul Rudder
The Charlotte Hornets have fired head coach James Borrego
Todd KirklandAFP

After a disappointing Play-In Tournament run, the Charlotte Hornets decided enough was enough where their coach was concerned.

Charlotte Hornets fire HC James Borrego

According to reports on Friday, the Charlotte Hornets have dismissed their head coach James Borrego. The Hornets who were essentially dismantled in both of their play-in games were simply not good enough as they attempted to find a way to prolong their post season. Speaking on the situation, Hornets team president and GM Mitch Kupchak was respectful towards the now former head coach. “I want to thank JB for his hard work and commitment during these past four seasons,” Kupchak said. “Beyond his work as a coach, he is a tremendous person. I wish him and his family the best in the future. These decisions are always difficult. Having said that, we have a talented, young core of players which has me very excited about the future of the Hornets. We will begin the search for our new head coach immediately.”

How did James Borrego do as Hornets coach?

In his four years in charge of the Hornet, Borrego’s record was not the best at 138-163, in fact this season at 43-39 was actually his best campaign with the franchise. True though it is that he managed to guide the Hornets to the league’s play-in tournament in the last two consecutive seasons, it was just not good enough. Indeed, the one sided nature of their most recent losses in the Play-In tournament was perhaps the nail in the coffin. There are, however, some positives to be taken from his tenure, namely the development of young stars like LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges.

Hornets, Borrego, Kemba Walker and what could have been

It was back in 2018 when Borrego took charge of the Hornets and at the time he was fortunate to have Kemba Walker in the roster. Hopes were high at the time as the Hornets expected to compete for the playoffs. It was not meant to be, however, as just one year later Walker left as a free agent with the Hornets refusing to meet his financial demands. Indeed, it could be argued that Charlotte’s management has neglected to support Borrego’s vision on several occasions, such that the coach had to make do with below par defensive prospects and no clear option for a starting center.

How did Borrego cope? Primarily by focusing on the wide variety of guards that he had available on the roster. If there is one thing that Borrego should be acknowledged for across his career, it’s his creativity and innovation as he’s often been forced to field small players, while obviously having to factor in defensive necessities. That has led to the coach implementing lineups that could both defend - as best as they could - while simultaneously playing the offensively quicker and wider spaced game that is normally associated with such a choice.

What next for the Charlotte Hornets?

As things stand, whoever takes over as HC of the Hornets will be facing a similar situation to the one which Borrego just left. Yes it’s true, LaMelo Ball is a genuine star on the rise, but the roster remains limited and as mentioned before there is no center. There is also the lack of financial wiggle room tied to the massive contracts handed out to Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier. Then there is the man himself Michael Jordan, who to date has refused to invest enough to see all of the above change. Rest assured there is the lure of the opportunity to coach one of the hottest young prospects in the league in Ball, but if the scenario has remained unchanged it’s no less of a double edged sword than the one that cut Borrego loose.