NBA

Toronto reportedly expected to hire Memphis assistant Darko Rajakovic as head coach

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darko_rajakovic

It seems like the Raptors have decided on their locker room’s new leader, as reports suggest that they are finalizing their deal to make current Grizzlies assistant Darko Rakajovic their new head coach. If ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski sources are correct, this means the only team that was left without a trainer have finally found their suitor. 

Over a month ago, as Toronto were eliminated from the 2023 AT&T Play-In Tournament, the team’s front office decided to fire Nick Nurse after five seasons in the Canadian franchise. The former coach even conquered the title with the Raptors in his first campaign (2018/19).

The Serbian trainer has been involved in coaching ever since he was a teenager, as he received consulting and summer league experience with the San Antonio Spurs and then started coaching in the G League back when it was called the NBA Development League in 2012.

After his spell in Texas, he was hired by teams like Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and finally the Grizzlies for nine years as an assistant.

Another coach who was being eyed by the Toronto scouts was Sergio Scariolo, and he decided to be one of the first to congratulate the Serbian for securing his new job.

“Congrats and good luck to my good friend coach (at) DRajakovic!,” posted Scariolo, who was a former Raptors assistant and Spanish national team coach. “Good choice, it’s great to see a european coach having an opportunity to prove his value as an NBA HC! A heartfelt thank you to the Raptors, receive this consideration from what has been my team was very meaningful!”

By the end of their season, six other clubs in the NBA decided to discharge their coaches and all have found their new trainers. For example, Adrian Griffin was hired in Milwaukee, Monty Williams to Detroit, and Frank Vogel recently made it to Phoenix.

“We described our offensive identity as playing basketball with 0.5,” Rajakovic said not too long ago about his coaching style. “Which means making quick decisions in 0.5 seconds — you take a shot, put the ball on the floor and drive it or make a pass. You got to make quick decisions; there is no holding onto the ball there, is no playing a lot of [one-on-one or isolation] ball and we just wanted to play fast.”

The Raptors’ President talked about why they decided to move on from Nick Nurse

Masai Ujiri, the President of Basketball Operations in Toronto, addressed the reasons why they decided to fire Nick Nurse after a healthy 5-year spell leading the Canadian roster.

“It’s been very disappointing for us. We want to gain momentum back as a team, togetherness. All the things, culture, that we have stood for here, I think we lacked this year,” he said about the 2020 Coach of the Year.

“You could see it throughout the year. There was never that full excitement,” Ujiri admitted. “There was never that full spirit. There was never that feel of togetherness. We all saw it. You all saw it. It’s not something we are making up here. You win two and all of a sudden it goes the other way. You’re gaining, and then it goes the other way.”

Now Rajakovic will have the responsibility of guiding the Raptors back to their winning ways, and get the best out of team stars Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam.