OKC Thunder: Mark Daigneault focuses on filling out staff
Reaching out to his players was Mark Daigneault’s No. 1 priority in his first 48 hours as Thunder head coach. Second on Daigneault’s to-do list is assembling a staff.
“I can’t say when it’ll be done,” Daigneault told The Oklahoman on Friday, “but I can say that it’s being worked on actively already.”
Daigneault was promoted from assistant coach to head coach on Wednesday, and things are about to move quickly — from possible trades, to the NBA draft, to free agency opening by the end of next week.
Longtime Thunder assistant Maurice Cheeks is reportedly joining Billy Donovan’s staff in Chicago, and it’s unclear which of the five other Thunder assistants (David Akinyooye, Vin Bhavnani, Dave Bliss, Brian Keefe, Mike Wilks) will remain in Oklahoma City under Daigneault.
“Looking internally is important,” Daigneault said. “I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily even for continuity as much as it is because I think there’s a lot of people internally that have the types of qualities that will be really good here. That’s why they’re already here.
“We’re looking for people who have a certain mindset, and that are going to follow our method and that are going to completely embrace the strategic vision of the organization and invest in the players.”
Daigneault, 35, is the second-youngest head coach in the NBA, only older than Minnesota’s Ryan Saunders, 34.
As the first-time NBA coach fills out his staff, Daigneault said he’s trying to form a group environment that’s both “cognitively diverse” and “open enough to empower.”
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“I think a lot of times you can hurt the room and the group if it just becomes about offsetting your weaknesses and filling your own individual gaps,” Daigneault said of the hiring process. “I believe if you try to build a really good room and a really good coaching staff that will embed really well in the organization, your weaknesses will be offset at the end of that process. But in my opinion, that’s not the starting point.”