JUNE 13: The Raptors have officially hired Rajakovic, issuing a press release to formally announce their new head coach.
“We’re entering a new era – one where we are embracing new ideas, a new attitude, and now a new head coach – but our goals remain the same. A championship. Winning,” Ujiri said in a statement. “Darko shares those goals, and our belief in culture, professionalism, and hard work. His commitment to both learning and teaching our game is elite, and we are all very excited to welcome him to the Raptors family.”
JUNE 10: Grizzlies assistant coach Darko Rajakovic is getting a new job.
Sources inform Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that the Raptors have offered Rajakovic their vacant head coaching position, and are currently in the process of ironing out terms on a deal.
Toronto team president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster fired former head coach Nick Nurse in April after he spent 10 years with the franchise, including five in that role. Nurse led the Raptors to their first-ever title during his debut season as the team’s head coach in 2018/19.
Rajakovic, who originally hails from Serbia and coached in the Spanish EBA League before arriving stateside, got his feet wet in the NBA while working as a scouting consultant and Summer League assistant coach for the Spurs from 2004-11.
He then served as the head coach of the Tulsa 66ers, the then-D League affiliate club of the Thunder. The team has since been rechristened the Oklahoma City Blue, and of course the D League has become the G League in the intervening seasons.
Rajakovic subsequently served as an assistant coach under Scott Brooks and Billy Donovan with the Thunder from 2014-19, then worked with the Suns during the 2019/20 season on the staff of Monty Williams. He joined Taylor Jenkins‘ bench in 2020 with Memphis and soon graduated to become Jenkins’ lead assistant coach.
According to Wojnarowski, Toronto was looking for a head coach that could function either in leading a veteran-laden roster back to the playoffs or in developing a younger core.
Wojnarowski names Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson and Bucks assistant Charles Lee as two other finalists who were given serious consideration.
The Raptors’ opening had been the final available head coaching vacancy on the market this year.