One of the factors which could have delayed the Orlando Magic's long-rumored decision to fire coach Jacque Vaughn--which finally they did, mercifully, on Thursday afternoon--was the lack of experienced, qualified assistant coaches on Vaughn's staff whom they could promote to lead the team on an interim basis. After at least a week of mulling its options, the team settled on James Borrego, Vaughn's lead assistant, and then showed fellow assistants Wes Unseld Jr., Zach Guthrie, and Brett Gunning the door. Borrego's assistant coaches are Laron Profit and Jay Hernandez, who previously served as player-development coaches on Vaughn's staff.
Rob Hennigan, the Magic's general manager, heaped praise on Borrego in Thursday's news conference announcing the changes in Orlando's coaching staff. But the fact that Hennigan said the team would roll with Borrego on a "day-to-day" basis strongly suggests that Borrego doesn't fit the team's long-term plans. Given Borrego's deep ties to the head man Hennigan just fired, how could he?
That's not to say Borrego isn't qualified: he brings to the Magic a wealth of basketball experience, having coached the game for more than a decade. He got his start as an assistant at the University of San Diego, his alma mater, in 2001. Two years later, the Toreros made their third-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to the Stanford Cardinal in the first round.
Borrego transitioned to the pros following that NCAA Tourney appearance, joining the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant video coordinator. He'd remain in the Spurs organization--where he met Hennigan and Vaughn--for seven years, rising through the ranks and finishing his tenure there as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich word. While with the Spurs, he earned championship rings in 2005 and again in 2007.
Borrego then joined Monty Williams' staff with the New Orleans Hornets, also as an assistant coach, for two more seasons; like Vaughn, Williams comes from the Popovich coaching tree. Borrego coached the Hornets' NBA Summer League squad prior to beginning his second season in that organization. After that second season, he joined Vaughn's staff in Orlando. He served as the Magic's head coach in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, a role he'd cede to Unseld a year later.
The Borrego era gets underway Friday when the Magic host the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:00 PM Eastern.