OKLAHOMA CITY — The 2019 offseason has not been kind to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After being eliminated by the Portland Trail Blazers, the Thunder have endured two surgeries to Paul George and Russell Westbrook. Last week saw the departure of one-year assistant coach Bob Beyer, who left to join Luke Walton’s staff in Sacramento.
Today Billy Donovan lost long-time assistants Darko Rajakovic and Mark Bryant to former assistant coach Monty Williams’ staff in Phoenix. Rajakovic’s departure comes as sort of a surprise as New York Times NBA reporter Marc Stein — who reported these departures first — revealed that Bryant was a strong candidate to join the Suns staff on May 24th.
Rajakovic leaves Oklahoma City after spending the last seven seasons in the organization. The Serbian-born coached the Tulsa 66ers (now the Oklahoma City Blue) from 2012 until 2014 — making him the first non-North American coach in NBA G-League history. Afterwards he joined the Thunder’s staff under former head coach Scott Brooks.
Rajakovic spent his time on staff with player development, primarily with younger players. Routinely prior to games, Rajakovic would spend time running drills with Thunder rookies and other less-experienced players.
Bryant’s departure marks the end of an era for Oklahoma City’s coaching staff.
Bryant joined the franchise in 2007 during the Seattle SuperSonics days. Since then, Bryant has been a fixture in the development of Thunder bigs such as Nenad Krstić, Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams. He enjoyed a stint as Oklahoma City’s Summer League coach in 2012.
Donovan now has three openings on his staff as he heads into the final year of his contract. Only Maurice Cheeks, advance scouting/player development assistant Vin Bhavnani and quality control coach Billy Schmidt remain.
Franchise Thunder Minute on OKC losing two more assistant head coaches: pic.twitter.com/As86malbEa
— Brady Trantham (@BradyDoesSports) June 4, 2019
Brady Trantham has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for The Franchise since April 2018 and for Thunder Digest since 2016. He hosts a Thunder podcast with Madysson Morris “OKC-82 Podcast” which can be found on all podcast outlets, and is a featured co-host on the Franchise Thunder Insider’s Show on Saturdays from 10-12, in addition to weekly guest spots on “The Franchise Drive” on Tuesdays and “The Franchise Morning Show” on Wednesdays. Follow him on Twitter @BradyDoesSports