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Spurs’ James Borrego to become Hornets head coach

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After four years in the Spurs’ bench as an assistant, Borrego will get a chance to lead his own team.

Orlando Magic v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Spurs assistant coach James Borrego will become the Charlotte Hornets’ head coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Borrego, 41, had been a sought after candidate for head coaching positions this offseason, also meeting with the Milwaukee Bucks. He wasn’t the only Spurs assistant to interview for a promotion elsewhere, as Ettore Messina, Ime Udoka and Becky Hammon have also received interest from several franchises as potential lead coaches. Borrego is the first to actually get hired, however, and his exit leaves a void in the staff. It’s too early to rule out any more departures or a possible Spurs hiring, but as things stand right now, Hammon would likely take Borrego’s place in the first row after spending four years as fourth assistant.

This was Borrego’s second stint with the Spurs. From 2003 to 2010 he held several positions within the organization, before leaving to be an assistant coach for Monty Williams in New Orleans and Jacque Vaughn in Orlando. When Vaughn was fired by the Magic, Borrego took over on an interim basis, leading the team to a 10-20 record. The following season he returned to San Antonio in an assistant coach role. Now, he’ll get a proper chance to prove his worth as a head coach on a team in dire need of guidance and leadership.

The Hornets organization is undergoing an overhaul. Rich Cho and Steve Clifford lost their jobs as general manager and head coach, respectively, after a disappointing 36-46 season. Former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was hired to replace Cho and decided to bring Borrego along to fill in the void left by Clifford’s firing. The new administration has its work cut out for them, as Charlotte has playoff aspirations but only one All-Star caliber player in point guard Kemba Walker and significant salary commitments that should prevent big additions.

Borrego is surely ready for the challenge. He was a valued member of the Spurs’ organization for a long time and should find success in his second time away from San Antonio. Gregg Popovich’s coaching tree now has a new branch.

Congratulations, Coach Borrego!