The Thunder has added Darko Rajakovic to its coaching staff as an assistant, the team announced Saturday.
Rajakovic, a Serbia native, previously coached the Thunder-owned Tulsa 66ers, becoming the first head coach in NBA D-League history born outside of North America. He guided the 66ers to a 51-49 record over the past two seasons.
Rajakovic becomes the third 66ers coach to be called up to an NBA team. He joins Dale Osbourne and Nate Tibbets. Osbourne and Tibbets joined Portland as assistant coaches in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
“This is a huge honor for me,” said Rajakovic, who is coaching the Thunder’s summer league team. “I really appreciate the opportunity that the team and coach (Scott) Brooks and Sam Presti gave me to coach the team (in Orlando). I enjoy this group that we have. Working with those guys is great stuff. I want to continue to learn. And as I’m trying to teach those guys, I’m also learning a lot from them as well.”
Prior to joining the 66ers, Rajakovic spent the previous three years as the head coach of Espacio Torrelondones of the Spanish EBA League. He led Torrelondones to the Primera Division de Baloncesto title in his first season at the helm (2009).
Rajakovic began his coaching career at 16 years old with BC Borac Cacak in Cacak, Serbia.
During Rajakovic’s time with the 66ers, Tulsa was assigned seven players from the Thunder a total of 50 times, the most in the NBA over that stretch. The assignees included current Thunder players Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Roberson. Rajakovic also has 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.
Rajakovic coached 11 Tulsa players over the past two years who were on an NBA roster in the 2013-14 season.
“Darko’s diverse basketball background, knowledge of the game and ability to develop players 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,” Brooks said. “His understanding of core tenets 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.”
TURNOVERS TELL THE STORY
The Thunder couldn’t take care of the ball Saturday.
An opening-day-high 27 turnovers at the Orlando Pro Summer League resulted in the Thunder suffering a shocking 84-63 loss to Memphis in the final game of the day.