According to ESPN sources, former Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego has reached an agreement to become the New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach.
ESPN Insider Adrian Wojnarowski posted the information in a tweet just before 5:00 pm CT on Saturday.
It’s a significant win for the Pelicans as Borrego was a hot name in assistant circles. He was reportedly in talks with the Rockets and Bucks, among others, but he chose the Pelicans.
Borrego isn’t unfamiliar with New Orleans or Willie Green. He served as an assistant under Monty Williams with the Hornets from 2010-2012, coaching Green as a player during the 2010-11 season.
It had been reported that Green wanted to add an experienced voice to his coaching staff. In late April, Christian Clark of the TIMES-PICAYUNE stated on his podcast that “I think (the Pelicans) would like a seasoned hand on the bench to provide some support for Willie Green…So, I would expect the Pels to target a former head coach, when they do the shakeup of the coaching staff.”
Borrego served as interim head coach of the Orlando Magic after Jacque Vaughn was released in February of 2015, leading the Magic to a 10-20 record over the final 30 games of the season.
He returned to the San Antonio Spurs that offseason, spending the next three years with the organization until he was tabbed by the Charlotte Hornets to be their head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. He was the first Latino head coach in the history of the NBA.
In four seasons in Charlotte, Borrego compiled a 138-163 record (.458). His final season was his best, as he led the Hornets to a 10-game improvement from the previous season and the most wins (43) for the franchise since the 2015-16 campaign.
James Borrego is most respected for his offensive mind and his commitment to player and ball movement, something the Pelicans have stated their focus on this offseason.
|2021-22||115.3 (4)||113.6 (8)||100.52 (5)||38.2 (6)||36.5 (6)||51.4 (15)|
|2020-21||109.5 (23)||110.1 (23)||99.00 (18)||37.0 (9)||36.9 (14)||58.1 (6)|
|2019-20||102.9 (30)||105.9 (28)||96.24 (30)||34.3 (14)||35.2 (19)||50.0 (13)|
|2018-19||110.7 (19)||110.7 (11)||99.18 (21)||33.9 (10)||35.1 (18)||46.2 (20)|
The Hornets were consistently among the league’s most frequent shooters from distance, ranking in the top 10 for attempts in three of four seasons. Borrego’s two most successful seasons; 2018-19, when the Hornets finished 39-43, and 2021-22, when they finished 43-39, were also the two fastest offenses during that period.
His Charlotte teams were also among the NBA’s best in clutch minutes, another big area of concern for New Orleans last season. The Hornets were 72-69 (.510) in clutch games under Borrego, the Pelicans are 31-38 (.449) over the last two seasons.
Borrego will be counted on to bring some cohesion to a Pelicans’ offense that has plenty of talented pieces, but lacks an identity.
How Borrego utilizes those pieces will be critical to the success of the franchise. But from here, the Pelicans have made a quality hire and a necessary one in order to revitalize their stagnant offensive attack.
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