Toronto Raptors to Hire Darko Rajakovic as Head Coach

Edgar Chaput | Updated Jun 12, 2023

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Reports emerged over the weekend saying that the Raptors have found Nick Nurse’s successor, Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic.

Saturday afternoon NBA insider and news guru Adrian Wojnarowski wrote for ESPN saying that Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors have found the man to lead the team going forward. Although a contract was not signed at the time of publication, the Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic are in the final stages of contract talks.

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Dark Rajakovic: From Serbia, to Memphis, to Toronto

Once the announcement is made official by the Raptors, it will put a cap on the 2023 offseason coaching carousel. The Suns, Bucks, Pistons, and 76ers all needed new head coaches and found them. Toronto was the last team, performing what is being described as an “exhaustive process” by president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster.

Hailing from Čačak , Serbia, the 44-year-old Rajakovic has spent over a decade slowly but surely earning his spurs in the NBA and its affiliate G League. His time in that division began in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder before finding himself on the first team bench. He worked with such recognizable names as Victor Oladipo, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams.

In 2019, he was picked up by the Phoenix Suns, although his time in the desert was brief, for in 2020 was already on the move to Memphis to be an assistant for Taylor Jenkins. His allure for the Raptors surely has something to do with Memphis’ rapid ascension in the NBA food chain. In both 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 the club earned the second seed in the Western Conference. It is said he’s had a lot to do with the emergence of players like Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Raptors thanked Nick Nurse for his services shortly after the team was eliminated by the Chicago Bulls in a play-in match. The franchise will have work to do this summer from the moment Rajakovic accepts an offer. Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. become free agents after the NBA Draft. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are entering contract years. Not that Rajakovic will work on those matters specifically, but suffice it to say that he joins the organization at what some would say is a critical juncture.