OKLAHOMA CITY — Billy Donovan has his work cut out for him this offseason.
Not only is he potentially stepping into the final year of his deal and the limited job security that comes with that, but he also has three positions on his staff he must fill.
Yesterday saw long-time assistants Darko Rajakokvic and Mark Bryant leave Oklahoma City for the Phoenix Suns under former Thunder assistant Monty Williams. Bob Beyer, who spent one season with OKC, left to join Luke Walton’s Sacramento Kings.
The Thunder is no stranger to their assistants being poached by other teams. This recent run however is unprecedented.
While there are some sexy names out there — Tom Thibodeau, Dave Joerger to name a few — one name to keep an eye on is one the Thunder won’t have to look far for. Oklahoma City Blue head coach Mark Daigneault.
Daigneault has coached the Thunder’s G-League affiliate since 2014 when he took over for Rajakovic. He became an interim assistant coach with the Thunder on February 17th, 2016. OKC was eventually eliminated in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals that season.
What makes Daigneault’s possible promotion even more likely was that his short stint as an assistant coach under Donovan in 2016 was not his first run with the Thunder head coach.
After leaving UCONN — where he served as an undergraduate assistant coach under Jim Calhoun — and serving three years as an assistant coach on Holy Cross, Donovan brought Daigneault to Florida in 2010. Under Donovan, Daigneault helped the Gators go 120-30 in four seasons and play in the Elite Eight each year.
Daigneault is a product of Leominster, Massachusetts — just a stone’s throw from Sam Presti’s hometown of Concord. His background as a film analysis specialist has led him to a head coaching position with the Blue — an entity the Thunder highly respect and have used to allow players like Reggie Jackson, Andre Roberson, Deonte Burton and Hamidou Diallo grow.
Don’t be surprised if one of the three open coaching goes to Daigneault. Considering Donovan is — for all we know — entering the final year of his deal, Presti will likely value a staff being of one mind. Daigneault’s history with both Donovan and the Thunder organization help that.
It worked well for Rajakovic. Expect Daigneault’s career path to be similar. Why not with the franchise he’s currently an employee of?
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