The Toronto Raptors and other NBA teams had to adjust to a completely different way of doing things during the 2019-20 NBA season due to COVID-19. They are still being forced to adjust, too. While COVID-19 has impacted all of the major sports leagues in America this year, the NBA has maybe been hit the hardest. They not only had to play in a bubble, but they are now going to have a very short offseason. The league also has a significant issue regarding where their team from Canada will play, as the Raptors need a temporary home. Well, they now have a new possibility for that next home.
The Toronto Raptors need a place to play for the 2020-21 NBA season
When the Toronto Raptors played in the NBA bubble to finish out the 2019-20 season, they didn’t need to worry about traveling across Canada’s border. Every team was stuck in that bubble. However, it appears that the league will not return to the bubble format for the 2020-21 season, which could make things difficult for the Raptors.
Due to the way the U.S. has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has closed its border to nonessential travel. This led to the Toronto Blue Jays playing in Buffalo and Toronto FC playing in East Hartford, Connecticut.
So, this means that the Raptors will most likely need a place to play for the 2020-21 season. “Where?” is the biggest question, though.
Nashville is being considered as a temporary home for the Raptors
Adam Vingan of The Athletic recently reported that a source has said that Nashville is among the cities being considered for the Raptors’ temporary home.
Raptors officials reportedly visited Nashville earlier this week. Nashville is the home of Bridgestone Arena, where the Nashville Predators of the NHL play. It has hosted SEC basketball games and March Madness games in the past, too.
Vingan also reported that Kansas City and Tampa Bay are in the running for the Raptors as well.
This comes after reports came out from Yahoo last month that the Raptors considered playing in Louisville, which is just about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Nashville. 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.
Compared to Kansas City and Tampa Bay, though, Nashville could actually be an ideal spot. Flights to the home cities of any of the Raptors’ division rivals, the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and New York Knicks, is no longer than two hours, according to Vingan.
Are there any other options?
No, Nashville is not the Raptors’ final choice. It certainly seems like a better option than Kansas City and Tampa, though.
However, some other cities would also be reasonable for the Raptors to consider. Eric Koreen of The Athletic laid out several possible locations and gave the pros and cons of each of them.
Among the locations he discussed were Buffalo, Newark, N.J., Kansas City, Fort Myers, Fla., and Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He also said that any Eastern Conference city without a major second tenant could work, too. Those reportedly include Miami, Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Brooklyn, and Milwaukee.
Yes, by looking at all of those options, it appears that this is wide open. However, it also appears that Nashville is a serious contender since team officials have already visited the city.
The NBA has already figured some things out for the 2020-21 season. The National Basketball Players Association voted to tentatively approve a Dec. 22 start to the season. However, the league and the Raptors really need to figure out where the Raptors will play this year with the new season starting in just about a month-and-a-half.