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NBA: Hornets sack coach James Borrego after play-in exit


James Borrego Hornets

FILE – Head coach James Borrego of the Charlotte Hornets directs his team during the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on April 16, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP 

The Charlotte Hornets fired head coach James Borrego on Friday, a week after the team failed to advance from the NBA’s play-in tournament to the playoffs.

Borrego, the first Hispanic head coach in the league, had been at the helm for four seasons, three of which came after the club went into a rebuilding phase after the departure of Kemba Walker as a free agent in 2019.

Since then Borrego has overseen the development of young talent, including last season’s Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball. Under his guidance the Hornets improved by 10 wins in each of the past three campaigns, finishing 23-42 in 2019-20, 33-39 in 2020-21 and 43-39 this season.

They finished 10th in the Eastern conference, but were eliminated in the play-in by the Atlanta Hawks.

But with Charlotte having failed to make the playoffs since the 2015-16 season, president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday the team had decided to make a change.

“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.”

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