OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Blue’s new head coach falls in line with their values of player development.
Last week, Sam Presti announced the promotion of Grant Gibbs to replace Mark Daigneault’s departure. Daigneault was recently promoted to an assistant with the Thunder. Gibbs has been an assistant with the Blue the previous two seasons.
“Grant is someone we identified early in his post-playing career as a potential fit within our organization,” Presti said in a press release. “He has steadily impressed us with his versatility as a coach. We believe he will do an excellent job with the Blue and is ready to continue his growth within the organization.”
Historically, OKC has had great faith in their system. Former head coach Nate Tibbetts received an assistant job in the NBA after success with the then-Tulsa 66ers. He was followed by Darko Rajakovic — who recently left for the Phoenix Suns after serving as a Thunder assistant — and Daigneault since 2014. Gibbs hopes to continue that success with the Blue and his own fortunes in line with his predecessors.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take on this role with the Blue and continue to be part of the Thunder organization,” Gibbs said. “Getting to work with our players and help them improve on a daily basis is something that I’m very committed to, and I’m looking forward to building on what has been established here.”
Gibbs Former College Coach at Creighton — Greg McDermott
Gibbs comes to OKC after spending three years overseas professionally as a player in the Netherlands and Germany. Prior to that he was a Creighton Bluejay from 2011-2014 under current head coach Greg McDermott — the father of one-time Thunder player Doug McDermott.
Coach McDermott was kind enough to answer some questions about his former player while he and the Bluejays are in Australia for preseason exhibitions games.
Q: What were your impressions of Grant as a player? What stood out about him?
McDermott: Grant always possessed an extremely high basketball IQ. He was an incredible leader because he wasn’t caught up in individual stats, just winning.
Q: What are the traits Grant possesses that help him become a good, young coach?
McDermott: He has a unique ability to connect with players. He will build relationships that are built on trust.
Q: The Thunder — and by extension the OKC Blue — pride themselves on internal development/player development. Does Grant strike you as a guy who can easily fill that role as head coach?
McDermott: His development the last two years while being part of the positive culture that exists in the Thunder organization has been very impressive. Grant will listen to his players and will, without a doubt, be a players coach.
Q: Was there ever any conversations the two of you had while he was in school about the possibility of him coaching someday?
McDermott: Grant has always enjoyed talking basketball. I valued and respected his opinion as a player. Frankly, I would have been surprised had he chosen a career path that didn’t include coaching.
Q: What is the silliest memory you have of Grant?
McDermott: Too many for print, haha! He was a master of bouncing the ball off the backside of his defender for a lay-up when he inbounded the ball under our basket. One of his finest offensive skills!
Editor – If that play appears in out of bounds sets for the Blue, we know were it came from.
Brady Trantham has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for The Franchise since April 2018 and for Thunder Digest since 2016. He hosts a Thunder podcast with Madysson Morris “OKC-82 Podcast” which can be found on all podcast outlets, and is a featured co-host on the Franchise Thunder Insider’s Show on Saturdays from 10-12, in addition to weekly guest spots on “The Franchise Drive” on Tuesdays and “The Franchise Morning Show” on Wednesdays. Follow him on Twitter @BradyDoesSports