Meet your Raptors Coaching Staff, so far

Catching you up on the news.

So, everyone has gotten excited about Darko, of course, and Jama, of course, but other additions have quietly been made.

Just giving an update plus resume on the guys who have joined the staff:

Jama Mahlalela, lead assistant: Beloved member of the Raptors run up to the championship, and a decorated player and coach at this point in time. Former UBC basketball player (1999-2004), assistant coach at the University of Toronto (2004-2008), Raptors community development (2006-2013), Raptors assistant (2013-2018), head coach of the Raptors 905 (2018-2020), Raptors assistant (2020-2021), Assistant coach and head of player development with the Warriors (2021-2023), and now finally a lead assistant back with the Raptors.

During all of this he’s had significant impact on NBA player development and grassroots development wherever he’s gone, as he’s always involved in youth clinics here, and abroad. He’s well liked by everyone I’ve talked to.

Pat Delany, lead assistant: Sioux Falls Skyforce Head Coach (2013-2014), Charlotte Hornets Assistant Coach (2014-2018), Orlando Magic Assistant Coach (2018-2021), Washington Wizards Assistant Coach (2021-2023), and now a lead assistant with the Raptors. Admittedly, I know much less about his life and story, but I’m hoping to learn more at Summer League.

Ivo Simovic, assistant coach: In 2001, Simovic started coaching the same Serbian youth system that Rajakovic got his start in. In 2007, he became head coach of Espacio Torrelodones, a job that Rajakovic would succeed him in, after Simovic went into management. Simovic was an international scout for the Spurs, and was an assistant coach for them during 2013 and 2014 Summer League. At the collegiate level, Simovic has been on staff at: Hartford, UNC Charlotte, Loyola, and UCLA (where he just left).

A frequent collaborator of Rajakovic’s, and another coach with a long history of development.

James Wade, assistant coach: Had a 13-year playing career all across Europe, started as a coaching intern with the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars while focusing on player development and eventually a full time assistant coach in 2013, took an assistant coaching role with BLMA (a women’s French league team) during the WNBA offseasons, coaching with both teams until 2016. He was an assistant coach, and WNBA champion for the Minnesota Lynx (2017-2018), he was an assistant coach UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia (2017-2020), and in late 2018 he was named the Head Coach and General Manager for the Chicago Sky where he would win coach of the year (2019), became a WNBA champion (2021), and won Executive of the Year (2022). He is now an assistant for the Raptors.

He was the winning coach of the first ever WNBA game in Canada. I was there to cover that game and got to talk to him: he was really great. Very charismatic, a vibes-bringer, as it were. Looking forward to more conversations with him, and what he’ll bring to the coaching staff.

Vin Bhavnani, assistant coach: most notably, Bhavnani was a development coach for the Thunder during Darko’s time with the team. He got his start as a video coordinator for the San Antonio Spurs. Most recently, he’s been a self-employed skills coach in the Oklahoma City area.

Michael Batiste, assistant coach: played 14 years professionally, including 75 games played in the NBA, and heaps of Euroleague accolades and championships. His coaching career started in 2014 with the Canton charge as an assistant coach, he then moved on to the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant development coach, and in the time since he’s been an assistant coach for Charlotte, Orlando, Washington, and Houston.

Jim Sann: Legendary development coach for the Raptors since 2016.

That’s it for now! A young staff, with a lot of development experience. We’ll learn more in time, I’m sure. Hope this caught you up! There is likely more hirings coming!

Have a blessed day.