The Toronto Raptors are hiring Memphis Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic as the next head coach of the franchise, sources said Saturday.
Rajakovic, a native of Serbia, has come out of a comprehensive process to sell President Raptors Masai Ujiri and CEO Bobby Webster on his bid to replace Nick Nurse.
According to Wojnarowski, the Raptors chose Rajakovic because the team believes it will fit both roads that Toronto could follow over the next year. If Toronto decides to keep its main players from Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby intact, the Raptors’ front office believes that Rajakovic can “train a team in competition.” However, if the Raptors decide to push the reset button and rebuild around the young star Scottie Barnes, the team believes that Rajakovic can manage this route as well.
Before becoming the Raptors’ chief, Rajakovic was the Grizzlies’ assistant for the last three seasons. He was Monty Williams’ assistant in Phoenix and spent seven years as Oklahoma City Thunder’s assistant. Rajakovic also served as coach for the Serbian national team at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Serbian native first joined the NBA in 2012, when he became the head coach of the Thunder’s G League affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers. During two G League seasons, Rajakovich coached 66ers to a 51–49 record, and traveled to the G League semi-finals in 2013. After these two seasons, he was promoted to assistant with Thunder under Scott Brooks, where he was on the headquarters of the OKC team, which were distinguished by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Now that the head coach is in tow, Raptors will now have to pay attention to their goal for the next season. They have the main solutions on the list to do it off-season, including what to do with VanVleet, which has a game option this summer.
If Toronto decides to launch it back with minor improvements on the list, Rajakovich will have to do what the nurse couldn’t do last season: make the playoffs. If the team decides to blow it up and shift the focus to the young players and assets they will receive in exchange for trade, then Rajakovich will be able to build from scratch up. In any case, Raptors during the off-season, and hiring the head coach was only the first step.