The Toronto Raptors are the only NBA team that doesn’t play in the United States, but the geographical closeness of Toronto means that doesn’t pose much of an issue during normal times. Things are obviously not normal these days, however, and international travel is a great deal more complicated due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As such, there are questions about whether or not the Raptors will be able to play home games in Toronto this season, or if teams continually crossing the border would prove too difficult. In baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays ended up using Buffalo as their “home city” for the season in order to make things easier, and the Raptors may have to do something similar. The situation is still fluid, but as of now, the team is still hopeful that it can remain in Canada and won’t have to set up a home base elsewhere, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN. He also added that earlier reports of the Raptors considering playing in Louisville, Kentucky was not accurate.
Louisville has made no secret of its desire to add a pro team, and already has an NBA quality arena in the KFC Yum! Center, so on paper the possibility made a lot of sense. But per Lewenberg, the discussions never actually got that far along. There was also a report from Rick Bozich of WDRB in Louisville that the Raptors were “reluctant” to play in the city because of the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police earlier this year.
While the Louisville aspect of this dilemma has apparently been solved, there’s still plenty of questions about the Raptors’ status for next season. It also doesn’t help that the league is now planning to begin prior to Christmas instead of on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That’s one less month for the Raptors and the league to figure things out and only adds to the uncertainty surrounding the team in a pivotal offseason.
Marc Gasol has already left the NBA for Spain, while two more key members of their rotation, Fred VanVleet, and Serge Ibaka, are hitting free agency as well. Between roster changes and a potential new home arena, things may look a lot different for the Raptors when next season begins.