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Hornets part ways with coach James Borrego

James Borrego, who has coached the Hornets since 2018, went 138-163 in his time there.

James Borrego led the Hornets to the Play-In Tournament each of the last 2 seasons.

The Charlotte Hornets have parted ways with coach James Borrego, the team announced Friday. News of the move was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic.

“I want to thank JB for his hard work and commitment during these past four seasons,” Hornets GM Mitch 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 has served as coach of the Hornets since 2018-19 and took Charlotte to the Play-In Tournament the last two seasons. He amassed a 138-163 record with the Hornets, helping them improve to 43 wins in 2021-22.

The Hornets have not make the playoffs since the 2015-16 season and have not won a playoff series since the 2001-02 season. The decision comes after the Hornets had given Borrego a multi-year contract extension in August.

Despite winning 43 games, the Hornets finished in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and lost 132-103 to the Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In Tournament. Charlotte lost by 27 points to Indiana in last year’s Play-In as the 10 seed.

Charlotte posted its highest offensive rating in franchise history and finished eighth overall in the NBA this season, but the defense continued to lag behind. Charlotte ranked 22nd in defense among the league’s 30 teams.

The loss to the Hawks illustrated the dire need for a rim protector and better man-to-man defense on the perimeter.

The Hornets have a young core that features All-Star guard LaMelo Ball and swingman Miles Bridges, both of whom enjoyed standout 2021-22 seasons. Ball, the 2020-21 Kia Rookie of the Year, averaged 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

After a 2nd straight loss in the Play-In, the Hornets must find the right complimentary pieces to go farther.

Bridges, a fourth-year player, raised his stats to career-best levels (20.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.8 apg) and ranked 14th in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring. He’s a restricted free agent who’s expected to command big money come July.

Bridges confirmed reports that he turned down a lucrative $60 million contract extension offer from the Hornets last year, hoping to prove he was worth even more with a big season.

The Hornets will have the option to match any offer made to Bridges by another team once he becomes a free agent, providing they make him a qualifying offer.

Charlotte’s hopes of a postseason run were hampered by not having former All-Star forward Gordon Hayward in the mix. Hayward missed 22 games with a sprained ankle before returning for one game late in the season. But that return was cut short after Hayward experienced pain in the same left foot and he did not play in the Play-In game vs. Atlanta.

Hayward has played in 93 of a possible 154 games with Charlotte since joining the Hornets in free agency in 2020.

Several Hornets players had said prior to the season if the team didn’t make the playoffs it would be considered a disappointment.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.