Charlotte Hornets fire coach James Borrego after four seasons

The Charlotte Hornets have fired coach James Borrego, general manager Mitch Kupchak announced Friday.

Borrego, 44, was 138-163 over his four seasons with Charlotte — the last three of which came as the Hornets were rebuilding in the wake of franchise icon Kemba Walker’s departure for Boston in free agency in 2019.

Since the 2019-20 season, Borrego oversaw 10-win improvements for the Hornets year over year. Charlotte went from 23-42 in 2019-20 to 33-39 in 2020-21 to 43-39 this season.

Borrego also oversaw player-development successes in LaMelo Ball, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year and an All-Star this season; Miles Bridges, who is in line for a big contract this summer as a restricted free agent; and Devonte’ Graham, who was fifth in the NBA’s Most Improved Player voting in 2019-20.

Charlotte’s season ended last week in the play-in tournament, losing 132-103 to the Atlanta Hawks. It was the second year in a row that the Hornets lost their first play-in game as the 10-seed. Charlotte went into both play-in games without Gordon Hayward, who was out because of injuries.

“I want to thank JB for his hard work and commitment during these past four seasons,” Kupchak said in a statement. “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.”

Borrego previously served as Orlando Magic coach for the final 30 games of the 2014-15 season, replacing Jacque Vaughn after he was fired midseason. He has also worked as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans and the Magic.

The Hornets have missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and have made them just three times over 18 seasons since returning to the NBA in 2004, failing to make it out of the first round in each appearance.

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