Willie Green’s staff is getting stronger.
The New Orleans Pelicans are hiring James Borrego as an associate head coach. The Pelicans wanted to add an assistant to Green’s staff with previous head coaching experience, and they succeeded with Borrego, who had a four-season run in charge of the Charlotte Hornets.
Borrego became Charlotte’s head coach in 2018. He is known for having a sharp offensive mind. In his final season with the Hornets in 2021-22, Charlotte ranked eighth in offensive efficiency, sixth in 3-point attempts and fifth in pace. It finished with a 43-39 record.
Borrego coached Green twice during Green’s time as a player.
Borrego was an assistant on the 2010-11 New Orleans Hornets staff that Monty Williams was in charge of. That was Green’s lone season in New Orleans as a player.
Borrego moved on to become an assistant with the Orlando Magic. He was the team’s interim coach for 30 games in the 2014-15 season after Jacque Vaughn was fired. Borrego played Green heavy minutes off the bench in what wound up being Green’s final season as a player.
“We trust him on both ends of the floor,” Borrego told the Orlando Sentinel at the time.
In his second go-around in New Orleans, Borrego will try to juice a Pelicans offensive attack that struggled at times last season. The Pelicans finished a disappointing 20th in points scored per 100 possessions, though a lot of that was because Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum playing in a combined 10 games together.
The Pelicans attempted the second-fewest 3-pointers among all NBA teams. Taking and making more triples is likely to be a point of emphasis headed into next season.
Borrego had interest from numerous NBA teams, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. His relationship with Green played a critical role in him choosing New Orleans.
Green is going into his third season as New Orleans’ head coach. The Pelicans went 36-46 in his first season and made a surprise run to the playoffs, despite Williamson not playing in a single game. They went 42-40 last season. They were eliminated in the NBA play-in tournament by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Jarron Collins, who has been New Orleans’ associate head coach for the past two seasons, is also remaining on Green’s staff. Collins was a finalist for the Detroit Pistons head coaching job, which Williams accepted. The well-regarded Collins oversaw the Pelicans' sixth-ranked defense last season.