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Raptors hire Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic as coach

Memphis assistant Darko Rajakovic replaces Nick Nurse as coach in Toronto.

Darko Rajakovic shares how he plans on taking on a head coaching role in the NBA.

The Toronto Raptors have hired Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Darko Rajakovic as their new coach, the team announced Tuesday. He becomes the 10th coach in team history.

“We’re entering a new era — one where we are embracing new ideas, a new attitude, and now a new head coach — but our goals remain the same. A championship. Winning,” Raptors Vice-Chairman and President Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “Darko shares those goals, and our belief in culture, professionalism, and hard work. His commitment to both learning and teaching our game is elite, and we are all very excited to welcome him to the Raptors family.”

Rajakovic replaces Nick Nurse as coach in Toronto. The Raptors parted ways with Nurse after their loss in the 2023 AT&T Play-In Tournament. Nurse spent five seasons in Toronto and guided the team to an NBA title in his first season (2018-19).

Rajakovic is Serbian and has been involved in coaching since his late teens. He’s had summer league and consulting experience with the San Antonio Spurs, began coaching in the NBA G League (then called the NBA Development League) in 2012, and spent the last nine seasons as an assistant with Oklahoma City, Phoenix and Memphis.

“To join and to lead an elite organization like the Raptors is what I have been working for my entire professional life,” Rajakovic said in a statement released by the Raptors.

“This is an amazing opportunity, to join a franchise with a supportive ownership group, fantastic front office and fanbase, and elite players. I’m looking forward to the journey ahead as we work together to achieve our goals: development, playoffs, championships.”

Nikola Jokic comments on Darko Rajakovic becoming the Raptors' new coach.

“Congrats and good luck to my good friend coach (at) DRajakovic!,” tweeted former Toronto assistant and Spanish national team coach Sergio Scariolo — who was also under consideration for the job. “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!”

Rajakovic’s hiring means all 30 NBA coaching jobs are currently filled. There were six hirings since the end of the season: Ime Udoka in Houston, Nurse in Philadelphia, Monty Williams in Detroit, Adrian Griffin in Milwaukee, Frank Vogel in Phoenix — replacing Williams, and now Rajakovic.

Of the league’s 30 teams, 19 have changed coaches at some point in the last two years.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.