The Charlotte Hornets fired coach James Borrego. What’s next?
This past week brought major news for one of Charlotte’s major sports teams: The Hornets fired coach James Borrego after four seasons. That came after Charlotte lost a play-in game to the Atlanta Hawks earlier this month, ruling out a shot at the playoffs once again
But Borrego’s firing came as a shock to many. Under his leadership, the Hornets increased wins by 10 games the past two seasons and had 43 wins this season.
“Under Borrego, LaMelo (Ball) became rookie of the year, became an All-Star, Miles Bridges became a borderline star. You remember Devonte' Graham, who was one of the league’s most improved players a few years ago; he’s in New Orleans now,” The Charlotte Observer’s Langston Wertz Jr. told WFAE’s Gwendolyn Glenn on this week’s installment of Time Out for Sports. “But when you get blown out in the (play-in)s the way the Hornets have gotten blown out by Indianapolis and Atlanta the last two seasons, that’s just tough to swallow. Charlotte’s missed the playoffs six straight seasons.”
For now, the search is on for a new coach. There’s lots of talk that team owner Michael Jordan is frustrated and will be telling the next coach that the Hornets must do better. But so far, there are no obvious frontrunners. Wertz, though, says he sees former Lakers coach Frank Vogel as a good possibility.
“I wouldn’t want to come in with that type of pressure,” Wertz said. “I know Jordan is a competitor and wants to win. It’s rumor mill stuff at this point.”
Switching Charlotte pro sports gears, there was some other big news last week across the border in South Carolina. The Carolina Panthers and owner David Tepper’s company formally ended the NFL team’s agreement to build an $800 million headquarters and practice facility in Rock Hill — even though some of it was already built. Tepper’s company claimed the city failed to issue bonds or provide public infrastructure for the project earlier this year.
“This is just a mess,” Wertz said. “Tepper’s side feels the way they do. The Rock Hill side feels the way they do. Tepper’s company put out a statement last week. They accused the Rock Hill folks of conducting a ‘misguided, destructive public relations campaign to obscure their failures.’ That, in business-speak, means ‘We’re done.’
“For now, the Panthers are going to have to operate out of Bank of America Stadium, where they’ve been for the past 20-plus years.”
You can listen to the full Time Out for Sports conversation above. Here’s a quick look at what else Glenn and Wertz covered this week.
- Charlotte native and N.C. State lineman Ikem Ekwonu could be the first overall pick in the NFL draft.
- Guard Caleb Love will return to the UNC Tar Heels men’s basketball team — the fourth player from this year’s losing NCAA championship run to return.
- Charlotte FC’s match against the Colorado Rapids ended in a draw on Saturday.