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Thunder hire Serbian coach to run D-League team

Adrian Wojnarowski
Yahoo Sports

In an innovative and historic hiring, the Oklahoma City Thunder have reached agreement with Serbian Darko Rajakovic to coach the franchise's Development League affiliate in Tulsa, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Rajakovic's hiring with the Tulsa 66ers is still pending his completion of the immigration process, sources said.

Rajakovic, 33, is the first European to be hired as a head coach for an NBDL or NBA franchise. Thunder general manager Sam Presti has had a long relationship with Rajakovic, including a working partnership that began when Presti was an assistant GM with the San Antonio Spurs. Presti targeted Rajakovic for the Thunder's minor-league position out of a strong belief in Rajakovic's ability to develop the franchise's young players who'll spend time there, sources said.

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For the past three years, Rajakovic has been the head coach of Torrelodones in Spain, where his developmental abilities have been considered among the finest in Europe. Presti helped bring Rajakovic into the Spurs as a consultant and scout in 2004. Rajakovic spent considerable time studying Spurs coach Gregg Popovich over the next few years.

Rajakovic speaks several languages, including English. He follows two former head coaches in Tulsa – Dale Osbourne (Portland) and Nate Tibbetts (Cleveland) – who were promoted to assistant coaching jobs in the NBA.

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