CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets have fired coach James Borrego after blowout losses in back-to-back seasons in the play-in tournament.
Hornets president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak made the announcement on Friday.
“I want to thank JB for his hard work and commitment during these past four seasons,” Kupchak said in a release by the team. “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.”
Kupchak said the team will begin its search for a new head coach immediately.
The 44-year-old Borrego was 138-163 in four seasons with the Hornets and had received a multi-year contract extension last August. Charlotte finished 43-39 this season, but was embarrassed in the play-in game for the second straight year.
The Hornets have not make the playoffs since the 2015-16 season and have not won a playoff series since the 2001-02 season.
Charlotte has improved its win total by 10 in each of the past two seasons under Borrego and the coach expressed his optimism about the team moving forward after exit interviews.
In previous seasons, Charlotte’s 43 wins might have gotten the team into the playoffs as an eight seed or higher, but because the East was so competitive the Hornets finished 10th. The Hornets lost 132-103 at Atlanta in the play-in game, one year after losing to Indiana by 27 points as the 10 seed.
Whoever gets the job can build around a roster that includes All-Star LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, as well as Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward.
“We have a talented, young core of players which has me very excited about the future of the Hornets,” Kuphcak said.
Charlotte posted its highest offensive rating in franchise history and finished eighth overall in the NBA, but the defense continued to lag behind. Charlotte ranked 22nd in defense among the league’s 30 teams. and the Hornets struggled to defend Trae Young and the Hawks in the play-in game.
Several Hornets players had said prior to the season if the team didn’t make the playoffs it would be considered a disappointment.