The 2019-20 NBA season just ended, and in a typical year, the NBA would be getting ready to tip off its new season right now, as the season almost always begins toward the end of October. Things have been much different this year, though, due to COVID-19, so the 2020-21 NBA season will definitely have a much later start date. In addition to figuring out a definite start date, though, there are other things that the NBA must figure out before starting the new season. This includes developing a plan for where the Toronto Raptors will play.
It actually appears that the league has an idea on when the new season will start, according to recent reports, but it must begin focusing on the where, and not the when. Where will the Raptors play?
The Toronto Raptors need a temporary home for the 2020-21 NBA season
When the Toronto Raptors played in the NBA restart, they didn’t need to worry about traveling across Canada’s border. All the teams were stuck in the bubble in Orlando. However, it doesn’t appear that the NBA will be returning to a bubble for the 2020-21 season, which makes things difficult for the Raptors.
Due to the way that the U.S. has handled the COIVD-19 pandemic, travel into Canada has been banned. Because of this, the Toronto Blue Jays played in Buffalo, and Toronto FC played in East Hartford, Connecticut.
The Raptors will also, most likely, need to play somewhere else in the U.S. during the 2020-21 NBA season. According to Yahoo Sports, some sources have said one location that has been discussed is Louisville, Kentucky as the city has the KFC Yum! Center. In fact, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported that former NBA player Junior Bridgeman has been in contact with the NBA about it.
It doesn’t appear that this will happen, though.
Louisville-Raptors talks reportedly ended over concerns of Breonna Taylor shooting
After those initial reports came out from Yahoo, there have since been some conflicting reports.
According to WDRB in Louisville, Bridgeman denied having a conversation with the NBA about the Raptors coming to Louisville. He did say that he talked to Raptors owner Larry Tannebaum, but they didn’t speak until after the report from Yahoo came out.
Bridgeman also noted that he believes the Raptors would still like to play in Toronto. It is hard to say if that could legitimately be an option or not, though.
Additionally, WDRB also reported that sources have said that there were some talks between the Raptors and the arena. However, those discussions reportedly ended after Raptors players “communicated their reluctance to play in Louisville because of the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville Metro Police officers as well as the social unrest that followed,” according to WDRB’s Rick Bozich.
Taylor died in March at the hands of Lousiville police during a botched raid at her apartment. In September, a grand jury indicted a former Louisville police officer for wanton endangerment. There were no other charges announced against the other two officers who fired shots. No one received charges for Taylor’s death, either.
So, for now, it appears that the social injustices that took place in Louisville will keep the Raptors from playing in the city, which is understandable when considering how it handled Taylor’s death. For now, though, the Raptors’ plans for next season are still unclear.
The NBA does at least have a plan for the start of the season
According to ESPN, the NBA’s board of governors met Friday and discussed possible changes to plans for the 2020-21 season. They reportedly planned to discuss starting the season as soon as possible and playing fewer than 82 games.
Shams Charania of The Athletic then later reported that the league office informed the board of governors that its target date to start the season is on Dec. 22. It also reportedly would like to play a 72-game schedule.
However, Charania reported that this could have significant financial ramifications. It would, though, allow a window for players to play in the Olympics.
Charania also reported that the league wants to continue incorporating the play-in tournament that it used in the NBA bubble.
The NBA does seem to have somewhat of a plan in place for next season, but the Raptors not having a home is still a big obstacle that it must figure out.