Toronto Raptors Hire Darko Rajaković As New Head Coach

The Serbian coaching veteran is reportedly headed to Canada for his first NBA head coaching gig.

BYBen Mock
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The Toronto Raptors were one of six NBA teams looking for a new head coach after the 2022/23 season. A 41-41 finish and a Play-In exit to the Bulls saw the Raptors part ways with Nick Nurse. The Raptors had one of the more unique coaching searches, interviewing Becky Hammon and JJ Reddick alongside the various assistant coaches and former head coaches considered league-wide candidates.

However, their final pick comes as something of a surprise. On June 10, sources told various outlets that the Raptors were finalizing a deal with Memphis Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajaković. Golden State's Kenny Anderson and Milwaukee's Charles Lee are believed to be the other finalists for the position. It's believed that the Raprots were looking for a versatile coach who could oversee an immediate contender or youth-oriented rebuild.

Who is Darko Rajaković, New Raptors Head Coach?

Basketball: Memphis Grizzlies Steven Adams (4) with assistant coach Darko Rajakovic on sidelines during game vs Dallas Mavericks at FedEx Forum. Memphis, TN 1/14/2022 CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X163908 TK1)

Darko Rajaković's career began in his native Serbia in 1996. He was just 18 years but became head coach of the youth team at KK Borac Čačak. In 1999, he moved to coach the youth team at KK Crvena zvezda. He stayed with KK Crevena zvezda until 2007. During this time, Rajaković undertook mentorships with Arizona coach Luke Olsen and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Furthermore, Rajaković served as a scouting consultant and Summer League for the Spurs between 2004 and 2011.

However, it wasn't until 2012 that Rajaković made the jump to the US. He joined the Tulsa 66ers of the G-League and became well-known for is coaching prowess and talent development. By the end of his tenure in 2014, 11 of his Tulsa players had reached the NBA. The Thunder, Tulsa's NBA affiliate, brought Rajaković on as an assistant in 2016. He spent five years with the Thunder before spending the 2019-20 season with the Suns. However, he moved out after a single season and has been with Memphis ever since. Rajaković brings a blend of academic-level basketball understanding and an unmatched warmth towards players and coaching. Toronto might have just found a complete and total coaching gem.

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About The Author
Benjamin Mock (they/them) is a sports and culture writer working out of Philadelphia. Previously writing for the likes of Fixture, Dexerto, Fragster, and Jaxon, Ben has dedicated themselves to engaging and accessible articles about sports, esports, and internet culture. With a love for the weirder stories, you never quite know what to expect from their work.