Thunder promote assistant Mark Daigneault to head coach

Cassandra Negley
·2 min read

The Oklahoma City Thunder will promote assistant Mark Daigneault to become their next head coach, the team announced on Wednesday after a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Daigneault, 35, completed his first season as an assistant with the Thunder in 2020. He was the franchise’s G League coach for five years prior to joining the NBA team.

Thunder executive president and general manager Sam Presti said in a statement the organization is “thrilled” with the hire, calling Daigneault a “selfless and effective leader.”

“Mark is a values based leader, continuous learner, and someone that will help us continue the repositioning of our organization on and off the court. The amount of head coaching experience and diverse experiences through his tenure with the Blue is rare for someone his age. He has also shown the ability to empower both the players and staff he works with, and we are confident that he will help us continue to modernize our approach as an organization in a constantly evolving industry. Most of all, Mark has a great belief in, and commitment to Oklahoma City and he will be a tremendous ambassador for our State.”

He will replace Billy Donovan, who parted ways with the team in September following a five-year coaching stint. Donovan signed a deal to coach the Chicago Bulls a few weeks later.

Mark Daigneault will be the next Thunder head coach, per a report. (John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Mark Daigneault will be the next Thunder head coach, per a report. (John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Daigneault’s quick rise to NBA coach

Daigneault was hired to coach the OKC Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate, in April 2014. The team had four playoff appearances, three division titles and a winning percentage of .592 (143-107). Eight players were called up to the NBA roster, including four players who had two-way deals.

He moved up to an assistant with the Thunder for 2019-20, a year in which the Thunder got the sixth seed in the Western Conference. They lost their first-round series against the Houston Rockets in seven games.

Presti likes the young coach’s “proven track record in in the Thunder organization,” ESPN reported. The front office likes that he’s able to connect with players and make short- and long-term decisions because the team will be in rebuilding mode.

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