As Houston Rockets coach Ime Udoka concocts his coaching staff, details have emerged regarding what he's seeking. He emphasized during his introductory presser that he's seeking energetic coaches who have the ability to build relationships with players, as he employed the same approach with the Boston Celtics.
It's been reported that Udoka could look to retain rising coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah, who I've gloated about before, and John Lucas, who has been roaming the sidelines since practically Abraham Lincoln was in office. Udoka and the Rockets have been linked to Celtics assistant Ben Sullivan, who was on his staff in Boston.
Could the Rockets add James Borrego to Ime Udoka's staff?
But Udoka will surely be seeking coaches who have been in the big chair, as having a second voice is a necessary ingredient. One name that could also be an option for the Rockets is former Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego, who is in high demand, according to NBA insider Marc Stein.
"Former Hornets and Magic coach James Borrego is drawing interest from several teams to return to the bench as a top assistant, league sources say. I reported Sunday about Dallas’ interest in hiring Borrego to join Jason Kidd’s staff, but sources say he was already being pursued by the New Orleans Pelicans before the Mavericks had an opening … with other teams (presumed to be Houston and Brooklyn) also said to be circling. New Rockets coach Ime Udoka and Nets coach Jacque Vaughn have both worked with Borrego previously."
Stein mentioned four potential teams that have interest in Borrego, including Houston, so if the Rockets do have interest in the former Hornets head coach, they'll have to pony up. It shouldn't be surprising that the Rockets may have interest in the 45-year-old Borrego, as he was on their initial list of candidates for their vacant head coaching position, prior to the Udoka hire.
Nabbing him as an assistant would be a major victory, even if only for a year. Borrego and Udoka seemingly know each other well, as both coached in San Antonio under Gregg Popovich from 2015-18. Borrego turned the Charlotte Hornets around, as the team had improvements in each of his final three years (23-42 in 2019-20, 33-39 in 2020-21, and 43-39 in 2021-22), and his ouster was a bit of a head-scratcher, seeing how he helped the franchise attain two consecutive play-in berths.
If the Rockets are able to reel in Borrego, it would add even more cache to Udoka's staff.