The Charlotte Hornets announced Thursday that they have named Spurs assistant James Borrego to succeed Steve Clifford as their next head coach. Borrego, 40, will become one of the NBA's youngest coaches, joining the youth movement at the position that includes Luke Walton, Brad Stevens and Tyronn Lue, who are all younger than 42 years old.
"I'm very excited to serve as the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets," Borrego said in a team release. "I want to thank Michael Jordan, Mitch Kupchak and Buzz Peterson for this opportunity. I'm confident in the coaching foundation I've had the opportunity to develop during my time in San Antonio, Orlando and New Orleans, and I cannot wait to get to work in Charlotte."
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that Borrego has a deal in place that will span four years with the franchise.
"We are thrilled to have James join our franchise," said president and GM Mitch Kupchak. "He brings a wealth of experience and a strong track record of player development from his time as a coach in San Antonio, New Orleans and Orlando. He has been a part of teams that have ascended to the highest levels of success in our league and understands what it takes to win in the NBA. James is considered one of the NBA's most well-regarded assistant coaches and it's great to have him as part of our team. I look forward to working with him in the years to come."
Borrego began his coaching career in 2001 with the San Diego Torreros and has since spent time as an assistant with the Spurs, Hornets and Magic. Though he will be labeled a first-time coach, he served as interim coach for the Magic in the 2014-2015 season, during which he led Orlando to a 10-20 record in the final 30 games of the season before being dismissed.
On its surface, Charlotte's hire of Borrego isn't a splash, but he comes with an intriguing pedigree and from a Gregg Popovich coaching tree that has been fruitful for many over the years. It's not a wild leap to think that if Borrego can harness some of Popovich's coaching traits, he could be a success for the Hornets and a franchise in need of a revamp after going 36-46 and missing the playoffs in 2017-18.