James Borrego shouldn't be viewed as a Dan Hurley consolation prize for Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are still interested in James Borrego. Don't be fooled into thinking he's a consolation prize in the aftermath of Dan Hurley's decision.
Charlotte Hornets v Atlanta Hawks - Play-In Tournament
Charlotte Hornets v Atlanta Hawks - Play-In Tournament / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to James Borrego as a potential option to fill their respective vacancies at head coach. It's been one of the more intriguing storylines to follow in recent weeks, as both star-studded teams flirted with 50 wins in 2023-24.

While the disappointment of Dan Hurley declining the offer to become the next head coach of the Lakers is stealing headlines, inquiring minds have already shifted to the future.

Borrego has been linked to Los Angeles from the start, most notably as one of the few candidates to receive a formal, in-person interview. Some are also of the belief that he's the preferred hiring of Lakers franchise player Anthony Davis.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, in the aftermath of the Hurley fiasco, the Lakers are still high on Borrego as a potential fit for the vacancy at head coach.

"The Lakers are regrouping after Dan Hurley's decision to stay at Connecticut. They met yesterday, they'll meet again this morning and talk about how they're moving forward. But they had a group of coaches that they were already interviewing, and that they've done multiple interviews with in this process, including James Borrego, the top assistant in New Orleans. He's going to continue to be a prominent name in this coaching search."

This should come as no surprise, as Los Angeles has been thorough in its evaluation of Borrego as a candidate during their search.

James Borrego has extensive NBA experience

Borrego, 46, has been coaching in the NBA since 2003. His most noteworthy experience has been as the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, as well as his time as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, which included the 2004-05 and 2006-07 championship seasons.

Borrego is currently an assistant coach with the New Orleans Pelicans, where he's aided in the development of players such as Brandon Ingram, Herbert Jones, Trey Murphy III, and Zion Williamson.

He boasts a record of 148-183 as a head coach, but his most recent season at the helm was easily his best. After helping LaMelo Ball win Rookie of the Year in 2020-21, Borrego led the Hornets to a 43-39 record in 2021-22, with the team ranking in the top 10 in offensive rating.

Although Charlotte improved its record by 10 wins in both 2020-21 and 2021-22, Borrego was unceremoniously fired—and the Hornets have won a combined 48 games in the two seasons since he was let go.

In Los Angeles, the pressure would be different for Borrego, as the task at hand is more complex given the more limited expectations that existed in Charlotte. With Davis and LeBron James, he would be tasked with helping two aging superstars win one more title.

With a supporting cast led by 26-year-old shooting guard Austin Reaves, Borrego would be simultaneously responsible for guiding the team into a future beyond James and possibly Davis.

It's a monumental task for any head coach to take on, let alone one who has yet to reach the playoffs in the lead position. Borrego had Charlotte knocking on the door, however, and his offensive tactics were undeniably effective despite the absence of established All-NBA level players.

Borrego may not be Hurley, but the Lakers would be getting far more than a consolation prize if he's ultimately hired as the next head coach.

In Borrego, the Lakers would be getting a promising coaching talent who another competitive organization is equally as interested in.