Around the Association: Hornets Fire Borrego, More Whistles Than Ever, Brunson's Stock is Rising, Williams Nearing Return, More

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Around the Association: Hornets Fire Borrego, More Whistles Than Ever, Brunson’s Stock is Rising, Williams Nearing Return, More

Chicago Bulls

We’ve got a full-on playoff update post out this morning (in case you missed it), but there’s a lot going on in the hoops world. So let’s discuss.

Hornets Fire James Borrego

James Borrego’s contract was just extended in August. Still, a disappointing loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in tournament marked Borrego’s final game on the Charlotte sideline after four seasons as the head coach of the Hornets.

Borrego spent much of his season-ending press conference defending his record after the Hornets fell to the Atlanta Hawks 132-103 to end Charlotte’s season. Borrego was 138-163 over his four seasons with Charlotte, a team in rebuild mode for the last three years.

Not only has Borrego overseen the development of Lonzo Ball, Miles Bridges, and Devonte Graham, the Hornets have seen improvements of 10 games in the win column in each of the last three seasons, with Charlotte winning 23 games 2019-20, 33 in 2020-21, and 43 this season.

Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak had this to say in a statement released by the Hornets this afternoon: “I want to thank JB for his hard work and commitment during these past four seasons,” said Kupchak. “Beyond his work as a coach, he is a tremendous person. I wish him and his family the best in the future. These decisions are always difficult. Having said that, we have a talented, young core of players, which has me very excited about the future of the Hornets. We will begin the search for our new head coach immediately.”

What’s Going On With these Playoff Whistles?

“Through 20 playoff games, the league is averaging 24.0 foul calls per 100 possessions and 25.8 free-throw attempts per 100. To put that number in perspective, the foulingest team in the league in the regular season, Detroit, only committed 22.2 fouls per 100 possessions. And the most free-throw happy team, New York, only earned 25.0 free-throw attempts per 100. Basically, every playoff game now feels like a regular-season game from the James Harden-era Rockets.”

John Hollinger dives into the data and tries to answer what’s up with all the whistles in this first round of the NBA Playoffs:

Robert Williams Close to a Return

The Boston Celtics are close to getting back to full strength with news this afternoon that Robert Williams is close to returning and could play as early as Game 3 of their series with the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. Williams averaged 10 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per contest for the Celtics in 61 games played before suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee last month.

Jalen Brunson Building Stock with Playoff Heroics

Jalen Brunson has been carrying the weight of Luka Dončić’s absence in the Dallas Mavericks’ opening-round series with the Utah Jazz. After the Mavericks dropped the first game to the Jazz last week, Brunson has helped Dallas win the last two to take a 2-1 lead in the series on the strength of 41 points in Game 2 and 31 points last night in Game 3.

This is good news for the Mavericks, who now have a 2-1 lead over Utah, and Luka Dončić hasn’t played a single second of the series. This is also good news for Brunson himself, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 if he and the Mavericks don’t agree on a contract extension before then. The former 33rd overall pick out of Villanova will get paid this summer wherever he ends up.

Check this out:

And Ones …

•   If you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, Apple TV+ just dropped a new four-part documentary on the life and career of Magic Johnson:

•   Ja Morant is just a FREAK athlete:

•   After Thursday night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors, Nikola Jokić is in danger of becoming an unfortunate part of the NBA history books:

•   Second half merchandise sales around the NBA have been released:

•   Plenty of action tonight:

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.