Thunder coach Mark Daigneault enters health and safety protocols

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Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault became the latest coach to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday.

The Thunder announced on Tuesday morning that Daigneault had entered protocols. Assistant coach Mike Wilks was named the team’s interim head coach in his place, and will lead the team on Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings in California. Wilks, who played briefly for the Thunder during the 2009-10 season, will become the first former player to ever serve as the team’s coach.

Daigneault is now the fifth coach across the league to enter protocols this season and the third in the past two days after Portland’s Chauncey Billups and Phoenix’s Monty Williams entered on Monday. Lakers coach Frank Vogel and Bulls coach Billy Donovan are the other two.

Oklahoma City’s Derrick Favors, Josh Giddey, Darius Bazley, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are also sidelined in protocols. The Thunder enter Tuesday’s game with a 12-20 record after winning four of their last five.

It’s unclear how long Daigneault — who is in his second season leading the Thunder — will be away from the team. The NBA and the players association agreed to a new policy on Monday that allows players and coaches who test positive to return after just six days instead of 10. The league is also requiring that all teams host a booster event by the end of the year to help players, staff members and their families receive the extra dose of the vaccine. 

About 97% of the league is fully vaccinated, compared to about 71% of Americans aged 12 and up, according to The New York Times. As of Tuesday, the country is averaging more than 243,000 new cases of the coronavirus each day — which is just shy of an all-time record and a 105% increase over the past two weeks.

Head coach Mark Daigneault of the Oklahoma City Thunder
Mark Daigneault is the fifth coach to enter COVID protocols, and the third in the past two days. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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