Mark Daigneault

COVID-19 Updates: Pacers, Kidd, Fultz, Tre Jones, Daigneault, A. Brooks

Justin Anderson and Torrey Craig have become the latest Pacers players to enter the league’s health and safety protocols, per James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). The Pacers now have six players in protocols. Craig signed a two-year, $10MM deal with Indiana last summer, while Anderson just signed a 10-day hardship contract with the team last week.

On the bright side, Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce has cleared the protocols and has returned to the team, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Here are some more COVID-related updates:

  • Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has entered the protocols, with assistant coach Sean Sweeney set to take over his duties Friday night in Houston, sources tell Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link). Kidd is the 13th head coach to enter the protocols.
  • Markelle Fultz isn’t ready to return from his torn ACL yet, but he has exited the protocols for the Magic, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (via Twitter).
  • The Spurs‘ outbreak continues, with Tre Jones being the sixth player currently in the protocols, tweets Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.
  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has cleared the protocols and will resume his duties Friday vs. Minnesota, the team tweets.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has exited the protocols and is listed as available for Friday’s game against the Mavs, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 (KRIV) relays (Twitter link).

COVID-19 Roundup: Nets, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Knicks, Wizards, Thunder

The NBA’s new guidelines regarding its health and safety protocols have resulted in several players being released from protocols this morning. The league and its players union agreed Monday to shorten the minimum required quarantine period for a vaccinated COVID-positive players and coaches from 10 days to six.

Here is the latest news on who has entered and cleared protocols today:

  • Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are out of protocols, as is LaMarcus Aldridge, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. While Durant and Aldridge may be ready for Thursday’s game, Irving is still working his way back into game condition and remains ineligible to play in home games because he hasn’t met New York City’s vaccine requirement.
  • Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince has cleared protocols and will rejoin the team, but won’t play tonight against the Knicks, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Minnesota also gets back Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid (Twitter link).
  • Cavaliers power forward Evan Mobley has cleared protocols and is set to reunite with the club today, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the Cavaliers hope to have Mobley play in tonight’s game against the Pelicans, but will put him through his pregame paces first to gauge his conditioning level.
  • Unfortunately, just as one of Cleveland’s best players recovers, another will be absent. Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, enjoying a nearly All-Star-level season with Cleveland, has entered the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
  • Knicks rookie point guard guard Miles McBride has cleared protocols, the team has announced (via Twitter). New York adds that he has rejoined the team ahead of its game tonight against the Timberwolves.
  • Veteran Heat power forward Udonis Haslem has entered the league’s coronavirus protocols, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Heat point guard Kyle Lowry is also in protocols. Miami assistant coach Chris Quinn will return to the sidelines, Chiang adds.
  • Wizards forwards Rui Hachimura and Montrezl Harrell have entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, joining six other Washington players, the team has announced (Twitter link). Hachimura has missed the Wizards’ entire season thus far due to personal reasons. Among the others, unvaccinated All-Star guard Bradley Beal is still in protocols and Wallace reports that his status is “questionable” prior to the Wizards’ upcoming contest against the Heat tonight. Center Thomas Bryant, wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and guards Anthony Gill, Aaron Holiday and Raul Neto are still in protocols.
  • Thunder rookie guard Josh Giddey has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Head coach Mark Daigneault has also entered the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, and will be replaced by assistant coach Mike Wilks starting with this evening’s contest against the Kings, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Wilks, a former journeyman NBA guard, suited up for four games with the Thunder during the 2009/10 season, Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman adds (Twitter link). Players Darius Bazley, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl remain in the protocols for Oklahoma City.
  • Keep track of all the players currently in COVID-19 protocols through out our daily tracker.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, A-Rod, Daigneault, Covington

Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves to a victory over Jimmy Butler and the Heat on Wednesday, putting up 33 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists in a game-high 43 minutes. Edwards was a plus-19 in the 12-point win and his performance earned rave reviews from a pair of his teammates with All-Star appearances on their résumés, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.

“I think we’re watching him grow in front of us, just all around,” said D’Angelo Russell, adding that Edwards “got us over the hump” in the game vs. Miami.

“You need superstars to win in this league now,” Karl-Anthony Towns said of the second-year wing. “We need someone like him. We always talk about the big three. Well, he’s solidified himself. It’s amazing to see him getting better and better every game and figuring it out more and more.”

Edwards is building off his strong second half as a rookie and has boosted his numbers across the board so far this season, further solidifying his place as a long-term cornerstone in Minnesota. In 18 games (35.9 MPG), he has put up 22.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 3.4 APG on .434/.360/.746 shooting.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • How did Alex Rodriguez go from MLB All-Star to co-owner of the Timberwolves? In an in-depth story for The Athletic, Krawczynski explores A-Rod’s entry into the business world and how he teamed up with Marc Lore, his partner in the purchase of the Wolves.
  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault returned to the sidelines for Wednesday’s contest vs. Utah after missing the team’s three-game road trip to be there for the birth of his first child (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Oklahoma City was 0-3 in Daigneault’s absence.
  • Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington was ejected from Wednesday’s game in Sacramento for throwing his face guard and hitting an official’s foot with it. As Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian relays, head coach Chauncey Billups and star guard Damian Lillard said after the game that it was an accident. “Roco always takes his mask off and tosses it to the side,” Lillard said. “This time he just tossed it and it literally bounced into the referee.” It remains to be seen whether Covington will be fined by the NBA for the incident.

Western Notes: Daigneault, Bliss, Ibaka, Wolves, Suns

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault is remaining in Oklahoma City during the team’s three-game road trip that begins on Friday, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Daigneault and his wife Ashley are expecting their first child in the coming days.

“We looked at a couple options of being with the team in terms of travel, and it’s not overly practical and it’s just not something that I want to risk,” Daigneault said.

Thunder assistant Dave Bliss (not to be confused with the former Baylor coach of the same name) will take the reins and coach the team on an interim basis until Daigneault returns. Oklahoma City will play in three cities in a span of four days, visiting Milwaukee on Friday, Boston on Saturday, and Atlanta on Monday.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Clippers big man Serge Ibaka expects to play one more game in the G League on Thursday before taking the court again for the NBA club, tweets Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group. In her full story, Swanson has more quotes from Ibaka on why he asked to be assigned to the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario upon returning from his back injury.
  • The Timberwolves need to take advantage of a soft part of their schedule, according to Michael Rand of The Star Tribune, who suggests the front office might have to start thinking about “major roster moves” if Minnesota doesn’t win at least two or three times in its current four-game stretch. The Wolves got off to a good start with a win over Sacramento on Wednesday. Matchups with San Antonio, Memphis, and New Orleans are on tap.
  • If Suns players have been distracted by the looming investigation into team owner Robert Sarver, it certainly hasn’t shown on the court, where the team has won 10 consecutive games, writes Rob Mahoney of The Ringer.
  • Speaking of Sarver, Baxter Holmes of ESPN reported this week that Wachtell Lipton, the firm conducting the investigation into the Suns‘ owner, has told current and former team employees that anyone who wants to remain confidential in the final report will have that option.

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Daigneault, Gobert, Wolves

With Jamal Murray sidelined, Michael Porter Jr. will be the No. 2 option for the Nuggets in the playoffs alongside likely Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic. Porter is looking forward to showcasing the growth of his game on the big stage, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

“I’m welcoming it, I’m embracing it,” Porter said. “It’s where I wanted to be. Progressing, taking a jump. I want to take a jump every year, I’m never going to be content. … I’m excited to see what teams throw at me, and how I’m going to overcome those situations.”

Porter is eligible for a rookie scale extension prior to next season.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder GM Sam Presti was impressed by the performance of first-year coach Mark Daigneault during a rebuilding season, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets“I think he did an excellent job … There was a significant amount of adjustments he had to make,” Presti said.
  • Rudy Gobert only missed one game this season and his impact on the Jazz is undeniable, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Gobert led the league in total plus-minus at plus-728 and ranked first in the NBA in defensive rating (100.6), defensive win shares (5.2) and total blocks (190). “When you look at other players in the league, his impact is at the highest level,” coach Quin Snyder said.
  • The Timberwolves have a solid starting five, regardless of how the draft lottery shakes out, Jim Souhan of the Minnesota Star Tribune writes. They also have some good young pieces on the bench and therefore they don’t need saviors, just more experience and growth, Souhan adds.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Saunders, Russell, Elleby, Daigneault

Karl-Anthony Towns‘ return to action remains up in the air, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. The Timberwolves star has been sidelined since testing positive for COVID-19 in mid-January. Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said Towns has been working out with the team on the road as he tries to get back into playing shape. He hasn’t played since January 13.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves had lost eight of 10 games without Towns entering Friday’s action, and D’Angelo Russell and Saunders don’t seem to be on the same page when the team attempts to close out games, Krawczynski notes. It takes time for a coach and a point guard to build trust, and they are working on that process right now, Krawczynski adds. Saunders is also struggling to maximize the backcourt combination of Russell and natural point guard Ricky Rubio.
  • Trail Blazers rookie CJ Elleby impressed coach Terry Stotts with his overall production when injuries thrust Elleby into the rotation on Thursday, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes. The 46th pick of the draft, Elleby had 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes. “He asserted himself into the game rather than just watching others play,” Stotts said.
  • Thunder coach Mark Daigneault likes the makeshift format of playing the same opponent in back-to-back games this season, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. “In the NBA schedule, you run into something that bothers you and you end up chasing your shadow but you’ve got a different opponent coming around the corner,” Daigneault said. “And so it’s hard to really spend too much time reflecting on the last game because you’ve got to turn the page. The series allow you to do both.”

Northwest Notes: Russell, Jerome, Hartenstein, Pokuševski

With Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns still out of commission due to a dislocated wrist, starting guard D’Angelo Russell has struggled as the new focus of the club’s offense, writes The Athletic’s Jon Krawcyznski. The Wolves have lost three straight games in which they have been down by at least 30 points.

Russell has recently been moved by Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders to the shooting guard position to play in tandem with distributor Ricky Rubio at the point. “It can’t be different every night. It’s going to be something we’re running with and we’re sticking with and we build from it,” Russell said.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Northwest Division:

  • Second-year Thunder guard Ty Jerome continues to recover from an ankle injury he incurred in training camp this season, Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman tweets“I think [it happened] in the first practice,” head coach Mark Daigneault. said. “He’s back in OKC on a return-to-play, getting his work in.”
  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post details how the Nuggets signed Isaiah Hartenstein to a two-year, veteran’s minimum deal in free agency this offseason. Hartenstein discusses his frustration with a lack of consistent chances on his prior squad in Houston. “With the Rockets, every time they gave me an opportunity I performed,” Hartenstein said.
  • Rookie Thunder power forward Aleksej Pokuševski has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol after suffering a concussion in a team practice today, according to a team press release. He has appeared in all five of the Thunder’s outings so far, and is averaging 16.0 MPG.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Towns, Daigneault, Maledon

After James Harden added the Trail Blazers to his list of preferred destinations this week, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard made a powerful statement Saturday night for keeping the current backcourt together, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. McCollum especially stood out in the win over the Rockets with 44 points, eight assists, and a game-winning three-pointer in overtime.

“What am I supposed to think?” McCollum responded when asked about trade rumors. “I play the same position as James. If there is a trade for James, who is going to be in the trade?”

McCollum’s $29.3MM salary also makes him a logical candidate to be included if the Trail Blazers need to match salaries with Houston, Quick adds. The 29-year-old has been a 20+ PPG scorer for the past five years and would help replace some of the offense the Rockets will lose by dealing Harden. McCollum prefers to try to win a title with Lillard in Portland.

“I think besides Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson), we are probably the only backcourt that not only gets along, but like, empowers the other,” McCollum said. “There is no competition. I don’t force my way into the game if he is playing well; he doesn’t force his way into the game. I just let whatever is going to happen, happen. I’m comfortable not taking shots, I’m comfortable playing a role. I do what is necessary for the team.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves got a scare when Karl-Anthony Towns had to leave Saturday’s game after falling hard on his left wrist, notes Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Towns returned to help Minnesota win at Utah, but the team won’t know how much damage was done until he undergoes further testing. “I didn’t want to just quit the game and go get X-rays and stuff,” he said. “I wanted to be available in case my team needed me, and just be out there cheering them on. I did what I had to do.”
  • Mark Daigneault impressed Thunder players with his calm demeanor in his first NBA game as a head coach, according to Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Daigneault picked up his first win Saturday, but not before OKC let a big lead slip away at Charlotte. “We, myself, almost gave the game away,” said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. “But (Daigneault was) super composed, kept our heads up, kept us confident. He was our leader down the stretch, even though things weren’t going the right way. And just in the right mind frame. Cool, calm, collected.”
  • Former NBA guard Tony Parker tells French outlet L’Equipe (hat tip to Stefan Djordjevic of EuroHoops) that Thunder rookie Theo Maledon should have been a first-round pick, but his stock fell because he wasn’t used properly in Europe by Zvezdan Mitrovic, the former head coach of Parker’s ASVEL franchise. OKC grabbed Maledon with the 34th selection.

Northwest Notes: Daigneault, Nuggets, Blazers, Holiday, Jazz

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault took a rather unique path toward his new position, starting out as a manager at UConn several years ago, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes.

“I’ve been with people that have definitely seen potential in me and definitely believe in me,” Daigneault said, “but they’ve given me these opportunities well before I’ve earned them. They’ve invested rather than rewarded.”

Oklahoma City promoted Daigneault, 35, as the franchise’s new coach this month, making him the second-youngest head coach in the league besides Minnesota’s Ryan Saunders. He first joined the organization in 2014 as head coach of the team’s G League affiliate.

“When Sam called me and offered me the job the other day,” Daigneault said, “I was just so overwhelmed thinking about all the people that have had their fingerprints on my life and career.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post explores the Nuggets‘ thinking ahead of the draft, with team president Tim Connelly offering his own perspective on the upcoming event. “Collectively teams are probably less certain what might be happening around them, what other teams are thinking, because we’ve lacked those avenues to get together and talk about what this team’s doing, that team’s doing,” Connelly said. “It should make for a fun night. There’s some clarity on the very top of the draft, and then after that, it’ll largely be a free-for-all.”
  • The Trail Blazers have expressed interest in Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor (Twitter link). O’Connor added that a potential trade between the teams remains unlikely, however, citing Portland’s lack of potential assets to include in an offer.
  • Sarah Todd of the Deseret News examines five prospects the Jazz should consider in Wednesday’s NBA draft. Utah owns the No. 23 pick this year, which could be used on a player such as Tyler Bey (Colorado) or Robert Woodard II (Mississippi State).

Thunder Promote Mark Daigneault To Head Coach

9:53am: The Thunder have made it official, announcing in a press release that Daigneault is the team’s new head coach.

“We are thrilled to have Mark assume the role of head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Presti said in a statement. “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.

“The amount of head coaching experience and diverse experiences through his tenure with the Blue is rare for someone his age. He has also shown the ability to empower both the players and staff he works with, and we are confident that he will help us continue to modernize our approach as an organization in a constantly evolving industry.”


9:07am: The Thunder are promoting assistant coach Mark Daigneault to fill their head coaching vacancy, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Daigneault, who worked under Billy Donovan at the University of Florida from 2010-14, was hired in 2014 as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate. He held that role for the next five years before reuniting with Donovan in OKC in 2019, becoming an assistant on the Thunder’s coaching staff.

During his five years with the OKC Blue, Daigneault posted a 143-107 (.572) record, including a 96-54 (.640) mark during his final three seasons — the G League squad finished atop the Midwest division in each of those three years.

While a report last week indicated that Daigneault was receiving strong consideration for the Thunder’s head coaching job, he was still a somewhat under-the-radar candidate, given his age (35) and his limited experience at the NBA level.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that general manager Sam Presti is enthusiastic about Daingeault’s track record within the organization, as well as his ability to connect with players, teach the game, and make short- and long-term adjustments.

Donovan’s departure from the franchise in September was believed to be related to the fact that he didn’t have the appetite for a rebuild, and there are indications that the Thunder will be pivoting in that direction soon. The expectation is that the franchise will probably move on from veterans like trade candidate Chris Paul and free agent forward Danilo Gallinari, while focusing on building around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley, and Luguentz Dort.

[RELATED: Suns pondering trade for Chris Paul]

The hiring of a first-time head coach like Daigneault is the latest indication that the Thunder may be taking a step back from contention in the next year or two — Daigneault should get the opportunity to grow into the job as the club’s young players develop, without the pressure of having to make the playoffs every year.

Will Hardy, Brian Keefe, Will Weaver, and Charles Lee were among the other candidates rumored to have been in the running for the Oklahoma City job before the team landed on Daigneault. With the Thunder poised to make Daigneault’s promotion official, all nine teams that made head coaching changes this year will have hired replacements, as our tracker shows.