The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have named Darko Rajaković (rye-ahk-oe-vich) as head coach. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released. Rajaković becomes the 10th head coach in franchise history, after spending the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies.
“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. “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.”
A native of Serbia, Rajaković was an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns for one season (2019-20) following seven years (2012-19) with the Oklahoma City Thunder organization, where he served as an assistant coach for five seasons (2014-19). The Thunder averaged 49 wins during his five years on the coaching staff, with four playoff appearances - including a trip to the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
Rajaković joined the Thunder in 2012 as head coach of the team’s then G League affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, becoming the first head coach born outside North America in league history. In two seasons (2012-14) at the helm of the 66ers, the team posted a 51-49 record (.510) and reached the G League semifinals in 2013. While serving as Tulsa’s head coach, he was also included as one of the Thunder’s assistant coaches at the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans.
“To join and to lead an elite organization like the Raptors is what I have been working for my entire professional life,” Rajaković said. “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.”
Prior to joining Oklahoma City, Rajaković was the head coach of Espacio Torrelodones in Spain for three successful seasons (2009-12), where he led the team to the championship of the Primera Division de Baloncesto in Madrid in his first year. From 2004-11, he also served as European scouting consultant and NBA Summer League assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.
Rajaković began his coaching career at the age of 16, with the Borac Cacak Youth Team in his hometown of Cacak, Serbia. After three seasons (1996-99) with Borac Cacak, he was named the head coach of the U20 and U18 teams of Red Star Belgrade and led Red Star to two Serbian Youth championships during his eight-year tenure (1999-2007).
On the international stage, Rajaković was as an assistant coach for Serbia at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, helping his country to a fifth place finish at the tournament, which included a win over the United States in the classification round.
Rajaković, 44, 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. He and his wife Gaga have a son, Luka, who is five.