East Notes: Raptors, Darko Rajakovic, Hawks, Nets, Cam Johnson


New coach Darko Rajakovic already seems to be earning the respect of the players.

“He’s his own person,” forward Thaddeus Young said, via Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun. “He’s a one of one. He’s tough. He knows what he wants to do. He gives us the ability to kind of give him feedback and talk to him about certain things and to make tweaks here and there. And then he has the ability also as a coach — sometimes coaches get stuck into their schemes and stuck in their ways. But he recognizes the personnel and he recognizes how stagnant a play may look and then he’ll say, ‘OK, I effed up. Let’s do it this way or let’s make it easier for you guys this way.’

“I love that in a coaches’ abilities, when they can really dive in and nitpick their own stuff and say, ‘OK, this is how we’re going to run it to make it better for us,’ as opposed to just trying to make it better for him,” Young said. “Because he’s not playing in the game. We’re playing. So he has to make it adaptable for us … to win a basketball game.”

  • Center Jakob Poeltl agreed, saying “very positive” when asked about his early impressions of Rajakovic. “Seems to have a very high understanding of basketball, like understanding of what the modern NBA is like,” Poeltl said, via Ganter. “And even on a personal level, I’ve been getting along great with him, had some good conversations with him.”


Coach Quin Snyder admitted that the idea of Onyeka Okongwu starting at power forward has crossed his mind.

“You saw it tonight which means it’s something we’ve talked about,” Snyder told reporters after the Hawks’ preseason win over the Pelicans. “We’ve thought about a lot of different lineups with our group, particularly the depth that we have. There’s a versatility in the lineup.

“There’s some things, certain combination of guys you and certain guys you want to get on the floor for a pretty standard amount of minutes whether it’s (Trae Young), (Dejounte Murray), some of those guys that does impact the larger group. So there are some things about our rotation that can be unique and there are some things that can be consistent.”

Okongwu added that he felt comfortable at the four.

“Just defensively being out there guarding guards, people who are faster than traditional fives,” he said. “I’m open to playing that position if need be.”


The Nets are being cautious with forward Cam Johnson, who is struggling with a hamstring issue. 

“Maybe he joins practice at some point this week. Not sure about the game situation,’ coach Jacque Vaughn said, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I’m going to be extremely cautious. I’d rather have him available that first [regular-season] game versus Cleveland [on Oct. 25], then to try to speed him along and play him in a preseason game. 

“But [he’s had] no setbacks, which is good, and heading in the right direction.”

  • Vaughn added that he’s been happy with the way the Nets have looked in practice and preseason games. “I think overall, I’ll say yes, because of the fact that they are accepting of us trying to figure out how we want to play on both ends of the floor,” Vaughn said, via Lewis. “So that piece of it is encouraging.”

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