On Wednesday afternoon, the Oklahoma City Thunder announced a multi-year contract extension for head coach Mark Daigneault. The OKC Thunder have seen this young core continue to show improvement but also burst onto the scene as one of the brightest in the association.
The OKC Thunder and previous head coach Billy Donovan parted ways at the end of the 2019-20 season as the former Florida bench boss decided to take the head coaching job with the Chicago Bulls. From there, Sam Presti went on a massive coaching search during the shrunken offseason. With the 2020 NBA Draft taking place in November of that year, the Thunder were right up against draft day by the time they got around to hiring a coach. The running joke at the time was that the OKC Thunder would not have a bench boss by the time the season started in December.
The OKC Thunder inked head coach Mark Daigneault to a multi-year extension on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite many rumors swirling at the time (remember the two hours Will Weaver was the head coach?), the Oklahoma City Thunder eventually settled on a name that no one had previously discussed. Former G-League head coach Mark Daigneault. To this day, people struggle even to get his name right, and at the time, many questioned if this was a hire for the future or a hire for the rebuild.
Since then, OKC Thunder have seen Mark Daigneault play a massive role in developing this young core. Even as the Thunder piled up losses in Daigneault’s first few years, it was easy to see that Daigneault was one of the best coaches in Thunder history. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, as well as his unique ability to relate to people and get the roster to buy in. Despite the talent disparity in each game, Mark Daigneault’s squads always played above their skis and never rolled over despite the temptation to do so during tanking seasons.
It all added up to this season when the OKC Thunder leaped from a 24-win team to a 40-win team, clinching a spot in the NBA postseason and falling a game shy of a playoff series with the eventual NBA Champion Nuggets. On top of the Thunder’s young core flashing their potential, it was an arrival for Mark Daigneault, who finished runner-up for coach of the year.
This contract extension is a vote of confidence from the organization to Mark Daigneault and a sign to the fanbase that Daigneault is the coach of the future for the OKC Thunder.
Now, the excitement around this season continues to build. One of this season’s most interesting and underrated storylines is the high likelihood that Mark Daigneault will coach in his first-ever NBA playoff series. That is when bench bosses are under the microscope in this league with game plans and game-to-game adjustments. To this point, Daigneault has passed every test on and off the floor.