Mark Daigneault

Thunder Sign Mark Daigneault To Contract Extension

The Thunder have signed head coach Mark Daigneault to a contract extension, the team announced today in a press release.

Oklahoma City didn’t provide any specific details on how long the new agreement will keep Daigneault under contract, simply referring to it as a “multiyear” deal.

Daigneault, 38, worked under Billy Donovan as a graduate student at Florida, then joined him as an assistant on the Gators staff from 2010-14 before making the move to OKC. He was the head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue – the Thunder’s G League affiliate – for several seasons while also serving as an assistant on Donovan’s staff with the NBA club in 2016 and again in 2019/20.

Following Donovan’s exit for Chicago in 2020, the Thunder promoted Daigneault to head coach. While his 86-150 (.364) record across three seasons doesn’t look great on paper, the rebuilding club has shown real signs of progress under Daigneault, particularly in 2022/23 — OKC went 40-42 during the regular season and won a play-in game in New Orleans before losing out on the No. 8 seed by dropping a second play-in contest in Minnesota.

Daigneault, who was the runner-up to Mike Brown in Coach of the Year voting this spring, will be tasked going forward with turning an ascendant team led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, Luguentz Dort, and Chet Holmgren into a legitimate contender.

Mike Brown Named Coach Of The Year

After leading the Kings to the third seed in the West and snapping a 16-year playoff drought in his first season in Sacramento, Mike Brown has been honored as the NBA’s Coach of The Year, the team announced (via Twitter).

Brown, who was also named Coach of the Year in 2009, will be awarded the first-ever Red Auerbach Trophy. He received all 100 first-place votes, marking the first time in league history that the award has been unanimous.

The Thunder‘s Mark Daigneault finished second with 48 second-place votes and 20 third-place votes, while first-year Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was third with 18 second-place votes and 23 third-place votes.

The Cavaliers J.B. Bickerstaff and the Nuggets Michael Malone rounded out the top five, while nine other head coaches received at least one vote.

When the Kings hired him last year, Brown said he wanted to do more than just get the team into the postseason. His goal was to build a team that could win in the playoffs and possibly challenge for an NBA title.

Brown was able to do that quickly, unlocking the potential of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis on one of the league’s most exciting teams. Sacramento led the league with 120.7 points per game while posting a 48-34 record.

Brown is the first Sacramento coach to win the honor and the third in the history of the franchise, according to Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 (Twitter link). The others were Phil Johnson in 1975 and Cotton Fitzsimmons in 1979.

NBA Announces 2022/23 Award Finalists

The NBA announced its finalists for all the major 2022/23 regular season awards on Friday evening (all Twitter links can be found here).

Here is the full list of finalists for each of the awards, listed in alphabetical order:

Most Valuable Player

Defensive Player of the Year

Rookie of the Year

Most Improved Player

Sixth Man of the Year

Coach of the Year

Clutch Player of the Year

TNT will begin announcing the winners next week during its coverage of the 2023 playoffs, according to the NBA. The three finalists for each award are based on voting results from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Antetokounmpo, the league’s back-to-back MVP winner in 2018/19 and ’19/20, has finished fourth and third in MVP voting over the past two seasons, respectively. He averaged a career-high 31.1 PPG along with 11.8 RPG and 5.7 APG on .553/.275/.645 shooting in 63 games (32.1 MPG) this season in leading the Bucks to the NBA’s best record at 58-24.

Embiid, the MVP runner-up in each of the past two years, led the league in scoring for the second consecutive season, posting a career-high 33.1 PPG along with 10.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.0 SPG and 1.7 BPG on .548/.330/.857 shooting in 66 games (34.6 MPG). The Sixers finished third in the East with a 54-28 record, though it’s worth noting that record is also the third-best mark in the league.

Jokic, the reigning back-to-back MVP, averaged 24.8 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 9.8 APG and 1.3 SPG on .632/.383/.822 shooting in 69 games (33.7. MPG). In addition to breaking Wilt Chamberlain‘s record for most assists per game by a center (8.6), Jokic led the Nuggets to the top seed in the West with a 53-29 record.

It’s long been assumed that Banchero, Brown and Fox were the runaway favorites for their respective awards. Given Embiid’s excellent play to end the season and Denver’s stumble to the finish line, it seems likely that Embiid will edge out Jokic and Antetokounmpo to win his first MVP — all three finalists are more than deserving, just as they were last year.

However, the other three awards are more up in the air. Jackson and Lopez have been considered the betting favorites for DPOY for much of the second half of the season. Mobley’s inclusion is somewhat surprising, but maybe it shouldn’t be — the Cavs finished with the league’s top defense and he is arguably the best defender on the team.

Mike Brown Wins Coaches Association Award

Kings coach Mike Brown has been voted the National Basketball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

It’s no surprise, considering Sacramento just ended the longest playoff drought among the four major sports leagues. The Kings went 48-34 in Brown’s first season as their head coach and will enter the postseason as the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed.

The Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer, Thunder‘s Mark Daigneault, Celtics Joe Mazzulla and Knicks Tom Thibodeau also received votes, per Wojnarowski.

This award, introduced in 2017 and named after longtime NBCA executive director Michael H. Goldberg, is voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches, none of whom can vote for himself. However, it isn’t the NBA’s official Coach of the Year award, which is voted on by media members and is represented by the Red Auerbach Trophy. The winner of that award will be announced later in the year.

The Suns’ Monty Williams had received the award in each of the last two seasons.

Brown was hired by the Kings after six-year stint as an assistant coach with the Warriors.

Northwest Notes: Daigneault, Hyland, Nuggets, Gobert

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said he’ll be less forthcoming with the media regarding injuries, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets.

The team was fined $25K by the league for failing “to disclose the game availability status of guard Josh Giddey in an accurate and timely manner” prior to Monday’s contest against the Magic. Daigneault believes his comments to the media the previous day led to the fine, so he’ll be more cautious in the future.

“I’m going to have to be a little less transparent when you say, ‘Hey, so and so, what did they do today?'” Daigneault said. “I’m going to be a little bit more rigid to the injury reporting because we obviously don’t want to put the organization in that situation again.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Bones Hyland has a flashy playing style that could get under the skin of some coaches but the Nuggets Michael Malone doesn’t want to bottle up any of the point guard’s swagger, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. “This is how Bones plays,” Malone said. “I’m not going to take a player and try to make him into John Stockton when he’s not John Stockton.” Hyland had 24 points and seven assists in 25 minutes against San Antonio on Saturday.
  • Malone admits that shot-blocking is one of the Nuggets’ weak points since Nikola Jokic doesn’t provide that type of presence, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. “We don’t have great rim protection,” Malone said. “It’s just not one of Nikola’s strengths. He’s a phenomenal player, but he’s not a shot-blocker.” Jokic has averaged 0.7 blocks per game during his career.
  • Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert won’t play against New York on Monday, the team tweets. Gobert was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols on Saturday.

Thunder’s Derrick Favors Done For Season

Speaking on Thursday to reporters, including Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link), Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said that veteran center Derrick Favors will miss the remainder of the season with lower back soreness. Favors hasn’t played since February 24.

Favors, 30, holds a player option for 2022/23 worth $10,183,800, which he’s almost certain to pick up after having the worst season of his 12-year career. Favors averaged career-lows of 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds this season in 39 games with the Thunder (16.7 minutes per night).

While Favors’ per-minute averages are still decent, he’s been trending downward the past few seasons.

Daigneault also said that Kenrich Williams is doubtful to return to action this year as he continues to deal with a sprained knee. He has been sidelined even longer than Favors, since February 14.

Williams, 27, has emerged as a valuable three-and-D role player over the past couple seasons with OKC, averaging a combined 7.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on .501/.391/.559 shooting in 115 games (21.7 minutes). His $2MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

The tanking Thunder currently hold a 22-54 record, which is the fourth-worst mark in the league according to our reverse standings.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Will Miss Remainder Of Season

The Thunder have shut down Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the remainder of the season, head coach Mark Daigneault told The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto (Twitter link) and other media members on Monday.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been bothered by right ankle soreness during portions of the season and hasn’t played since last Monday. The team’s star guard signed off on the decision to let the ankle heal.

He had another strong season statistically, though his 3-point shooting dropped dramatically (down from 41.8% last season to 30% this year). He averaged 24.5 PPG, 5.9 APG, 5.0 RPG and 1.3 SPG in 34.7 MPG while appearing in 56 games.

Forward Darius Bazley was also ruled out for the remainder of the season on Monday due to a knee injury.

Gilgeous-Alexander remains a major piece in Oklahoma City’s rebuild. His five-year, maximum-salary extension that he signed last summer will kick in next season.

Western Notes: Giddey, Westbrook, Williamson, Jones

Thunder rookie Josh Giddey will miss at least two more weeks due to hip soreness, head coach Mark Daigneault said, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Giddey has missed the team’s last four games, but Daigneault still hopes the 19-year-old can return at some point this season.

“We’re trying to balance development but also being cautious and being wise… We’re learn a lot more in a couple weeks here,” he said, as relayed by Clemente Almanza of OKC Thunder Wire (Twitter link). “See how he responds with the treatment he’s getting now.”

In 54 games this season, Giddey has averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists, shooting 41.9% from the floor and 26.3% from deep. Oklahoma City is 20-43 and will likely give more playing time to Tre Mann, Theo Maledon and others in his absence.

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • In his latest article for Substack, Marc Stein cites one league source who believes it’s “impossible” that the Lakers bring back Russell Westbrook next season due to current tension levels. Los Angeles ranks ninth in the Western Conference (27-35) and has lost eight of its last 10 games. Westbrook has averaged 18.1 points per game on 43.3% shooting from the floor, which is slightly below his career average.
  • Pelicans star Zion Williamson will rejoin the team when it returns from its road trip next week, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. New Orleans will play Denver on Sunday and Memphis on Tuesday. Williamson is progressing to full-weight bearing activities and his future timetable remains unclear.
  • Despite being a rookie, Pelicans forward Herbert Jones already appears to be one of the NBA’s best defenders, Christian Clark of opines. Jones’ defense was a major reason why Jazz star Donovan Mitchell scored just 14 points on 5-for-18 shooting on Friday, with the Pelicans winning by 34. “Herb, you just expect it from him almost,” head coach Willie Green said. “That’s what he does. He doesn’t say much. He just goes out and does his work. What he’s doing, we don’t take for granted. It’s hard to guard the best player every single night.”

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 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.