After looking at name coaches — Kenny Atkinson, Brett Brown — and top assistants like Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham, when it came time to hire a head coach to oversee the coming Oklahoma City rebuild, the franchise decided there is no place like home.
Oklahoma City promoted assistant coach Mark Daigneault to be the next head coach of the Thunder.
“The opportunity to be the head coach of the Thunder is truly a special honor,” Daigneault said in a statement. “Over my six years in Oklahoma City I’ve developed a deep commitment to the organization and a care for what is truly a special community that I call home.”
“We are thrilled to have Mark assume the role of head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti said. “He has been a selfless and effective leader within our organization since his arrival in 2014. 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.”
Daigneault started as the coach of the Thunder’s G-League team, the Oklahoma City Blue. There he did a good job connecting with young players and teaching the game, according to reports. He was moved onto Billy Donovan’s bench last season.
Promoting Daigneault speaks to the internal development mindset the Thunder are working to make the organization’s hallmark.
Daigneault also has a lot of player development ahead of him. OKC moving on from Billy Donovan as head coach of the Thunder signaled a significant change in the OKC mindset. Donovan helped lift last season’s Chris Paul led squad to unexpected heights and earned Coach of the Year votes along the way. Now Donovan is gone (landing in Chicago), Paul is being shopped in trades, and the team is about to enter a rebuild around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Daigneault, 35, has been a fast-rising star in the Thunder organization, now he will get a chance in the big chair to see if he can help build the Thunder into a contender again.