Raptors Notes: Rajakovic, VanVleet, Draft Pick, Green

Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri felt the organization needed a change, and surprise coaching choice Darko Rajakovic is just what he was looking for, according to Ian Harrison of The Associated Press.

“I know it’s change and sometimes change is hard, but we believe change is good, and change is good for our ball club and our organization now,” Ujiri said during the coach’s introductory press conference.

GM Bobby Webster said Rajakovic wasn’t the favorite going into the process but won over everyone in the organization, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets.

“We were really open minded with the approach to who we wanted to look at and every step of the way he really exceeded expectations and impressed us,” Webster said.

We have more on the Raptors:

  • Now that Fred VanVleet has declined his player option, where might he wind up? Cap space teams like the the Rockets, Magic and Lakers could be viable options for the combo guard, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. The number of other suitors could pursue a sign-and-trade for VanVleet, including the Bulls, though that could be contingent on whether the Raptors value former lottery pick Patrick Williams.
  • The Raptors hold the No. 13 pick in the draft and Doug Smith of the Toronto Star takes a closer look at which players they might consider at that spot. With Gary Trent Jr. expected to become a free agent, a wing like Cason Wallace, Kobe Bufkin, Keyonte George, Gradey Dick and Bilal Coulibaly could serve as his replacement.
  • Former Raptors guard Danny Green saw head coaching potential from Rajakovic while rehabbing with the Grizzlies from a knee injury, Lewenberg writes. “He operated like a head coach. He’s very good at breaking things down and talking to the group in that manner,” Green said. “Certain people you can look at and say ‘I could never see them as a head coach’, or ‘He doesn’t seem sure of himself’, or not yet anyway. But I could see him being in that role.”
  • The hiring of Rajakovic points to the Raptors building around a younger roster with Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Jakob Poeltl at the core, Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur opines.
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