NBA: Toronto Raptors names Darko Rajakovic new coach

The Toronto Raptors made it official on Tuesday, naming Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Darko Rajakovic as its new head coach.

Rajakovic, 44, replaces Nick Nurse, who was fired by the organization in April after five seasons and an NBA championship.

Terms were not released by the organization.

“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 release. “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, who is Serbian, got his coaching start in Europe before becoming the head coach of the then-NBA G League’s Tulsa 66ers from 2012-14. He has since been an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder (2014-19), Phoenix Suns (2019-20) and the Grizzlies the past three seasons.

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

The hire also sews up the final head coaching vacancy in the NBA.

Nurse, who was named head coach in Philadelphia two weeks ago, compiled a 227-163 record during his five seasons as head coach of the Raptors. Nurse guided the Raptors to their lone NBA championship in franchise history in 2018-19.

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