Memphis Grizzlies add Darko Rajakovic as assistant coach
Memphis, Tenn. – The Memphis Grizzlies today announced the team has added Darko Rajaković (RYE-ahk-oe-vich) as assistant coach under head coach Taylor Jenkins. In addition, the Grizzlies announced assistant coach Neven Spahija (NEV-in SPA-he-ah) has departed for a coaching opportunity overseas.
Rajaković joins the Grizzlies after spending the 2019-20 season as an assistant coach under head coach Monty Williams with the Phoenix Suns, where he helped guide the team to its highest winning percentage (.466) since the 2014-15 season and a perfect 8-0 record during the NBA restart at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
He has shown a passion, drive, high basketball IQ, and love for teaching the game of basketball at a high level both internationally and in the NBA. His addition to our great coaching staff will continue to help enhance the development of our players, staff and team for the future.
“I’m very excited to join Taylor’s staff and the Grizzlies organization. This is a unique opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the growth of a highly competitive and sustainable program in Memphis,” Rajakovic said. “I would also like to thank Monty and the Suns organization and wish them all the best.”
Prior to his time in Phoenix, Rajaković served seven seasons (2012-19) with the Oklahoma City Thunder, spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach. The Thunder averaged 49 wins during his five seasons as an assistant coach with four playoff appearances, including a trip to the 2016 Western Conference Finals. In addition, he served as the Thunder’s head coach at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in 2014 and 2015.
Rajaković initially joined the Thunder in 2012 as head coach of the team’s then-NBA G League affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, becoming the first head coach born outside North America in NBA G League history. In two seasons (2012-14) as Tulsa’s head coach, Rajaković recorded a 51-49 record (.510) and a trip to the 2013 NBA G League semifinals. While serving as Tulsa’s head coach, he was included as one of the Thunder’s assistant coaches at the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans.
“We are all so excited to be welcoming Darko to the Memphis Grizzlies,” Jenkins said. “He has shown a passion, drive, high basketball IQ, and love for teaching the game of basketball at a high level both internationally and in the NBA. His addition to our great coaching staff will continue to help enhance the development of our players, staff and team for the future.”
A native of Serbia, Rajaković served as an assistant coach for Serbia’s national team at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Serbia finished fifth at the event, including a win over the United States in the classification round. His international coaching career also includes three seasons (2009-12) as head coach of Espacio Torrelodones in Spain, where he led the team to the championship of the Primera Division de Baloncesto in Madrid in his first season.
Rajaković began his coaching career at 16 years old with the Borac Čačak Youth Team in his hometown of Čačak, Serbia. After three seasons (1996-99) with Borac Čačak, he was named the head coach of the U20 and U18 teams of Red Star Belgrade and led Red Star to two Serbian championships during his eight-year tenure (1999-2007). Rajaković received a basketball coaching degree from the Belgrade Basketball Academy in 2004 and a degree in sports management from Alfa BK University in Belgrade in 2006.