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Raptors hiring Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic as head coach

The Toronto Raptors are in the process of concluding a contract with Memphis assistant Darko Rajakovic to become the team’s next coach, a person with knowledge of the matter stated Saturday.

The team and Rajakovic entered into an agreement in principle for him to become the franchise’s 10th head coach on Saturday, according to the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the final details are pending.

The 44-year-old Rajakovic substitutes Nick Nurse, who led Toronto to the 2019 NBA title and went 227-163 in his five seasons with the Raptors. The Raptors fired Nurse in April, shortly after a season in which Toronto went 41-41 and lost in the play-in tournament.

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, started coaching in the 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.

“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.

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