Executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti officially announced that Darko Rajakovic has joined the Thunder coaching staff, to be named as assistant coach. Rajakovic spent the past two seasons as a head coach of the Tulsa 66ers, who are the Thunder's NBA D-league affiliate.
Scott Brooks had this to say about his new coaching member:
‘'Darko Diverse basketball background, knowledge of the game and ability to develop at a high level were clearly apparent during his time in Tulsa, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to add him to our staff. His understanding of the core tenants of what we do, thanks to his time in Tulsa, will maintain a level of consistency that we value and his various head coaching experiences internationally will provide another layer to our coaches.‘'
According to the Thunder press release:
During his time with the 66ers, Tulsa was assigned seven players from Oklahoma City a total of 50 times (the most in the league during that stretch), including current Thunder players Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Roberson. Rajakovic has also seen five of his 66ers players receive call-ups to the NBA, including four to the Thunder (Grant Jerrett, Daniel Orton, Mustafa Shakur and Reggie Williams). He coached 11 Tulsa players over the past two years who were on an NBA roster in the 2013-14 season.
Remarkably, Rajakovic is not the first Tulsa coach to matriculate, making Tulsa a desirous place to be for both coaches and players to carve out the chance at a career in the NBA.
Rajakovic is the third Tulsa head coach to be "called up" to the NBA since 2011.— Tulsa 66ers (@Tulsa66ers) July 5, 2014
Rajakovic has also been named as the Thunder's summer league coach. Since WTLC has sent some of our writers to cover these games in Orlando, we will aspire to speak to Rajakovic about his new opportunity.
In addition to joining Scott Brooks' coaching staff in OKC, Rajakovic is serving as the head coach of the Thunder's summer league squad.— Tulsa 66ers (@Tulsa66ers) July 5, 2014
Interesting Facts about Rajakovic
Rajakovic is a Serbian native, and he was the first head coach in the NBA D-league history to be born outside of North America. he led the team to a combined record of 51-49 over two seasons, in addition to a 27-23 record and NBA D-league semifinals birth in 2012-2013.
Tulsa was assigned with seven players from Oklahoma City Thunder for a total of 50 times, which is the most in the league during that time. Thunder players including Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb, and Andre Roberson were among these players.
Rajakovic witnessed five 66ers players being called to the NBA, and four of these players are part of the Oklahoma City Thunder team (Grant Jerrett, Daniel Orton, Mustafa Shakur, and Reggie Williams). He coached 11 Tulsa players who were on a NBA roster in the 2013-2014 season.
Prior to being a part of the Tulsa organization, Rajakovic spent the past 3 years as the head coach of Espacio Torrelodones of the Spanish EBA league. In his first season in 2009, he led his team to the Primera division de Baloncesto title, which promoted the them to the Liga EBA.
At 16 years old, Rajakovic began his coaching career with BC Borac Cacak in Cacak, Serbia. After three years, he was named as the head coach of the U-20 and U-20 of Red Star Belgrade. He spent 8 years in Belgrade and led the team to two Serbian championships. He received a basketball coaching degree from the Belgrade basketball academy in 2004 and a degree in sports management in 2006 from University of Belgrade.
It was a great move by Sam Presti to assign such an experienced coach as an assistant to Scott Brooks. Rajakovic will help building the talented players on the roster to help them take the next steps in their careers. Beside that, he is going to strengthen the Thunder coaching staff, and help Scott Brooks to make the right decisions on the team. I believe Rajakovic will be one of the main reasons for talented players such as Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, Mitch McGary, Steven Adams, and Josh Huestis to be effective on the team and step up their overall performance.