Earlier this week, the league and the players came to an agreement to begin the 2020-21 NBA season prior to Christmas, and play 72 regular season games. Now that the big picture item is out of the way, the two sides can set about figuring out other details, including financial matters and offseason dates.
In addition to the multiple league-wide issues that still have to be sorted out, there’s another team-specific issue that’s flying a bit under the radar. As it stands, the Toronto Raptors don’t know where they’re going to be playing their home games this season, and games will be starting in about six weeks.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, international travel between the United States and Canada is going to be an issue for the foreseeable future, which means the Raptors will likely have to find a temporary home in America. One potential option is Nashville, Tennessee, where team officials visited earlier this week, according to The Athletic:
Nashville is among the cities being considered as a temporary home for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s plans.
Raptors officials visited Nashville earlier this week, the source said. Bridgestone Arena, home to the NHL’s Predators, regularly hosts the SEC men’s basketball tournament.
The Raptors have previously been linked with Louisville, Kentucky, and the general New York/New Jersey area. As recently as a few weeks ago, the team was still hopeful that they would be able to remain in Toronto, but that seems more and more unlikely given how the pandemic is surging across the United States.
Due to the proximity to other Atlantic Division teams, as well as a multitude of travel, lodging and facility options, playing in the New York/New Jersey metro area makes the most sense. However, if that doesn’t work out, Nashville would be a realistic option. It has an NBA-quality arena, and is centrally located such that flights to a majority of other NBA cities would only be a few hours.
We’ll obviously have to just wait and see what happens here, but there should be a decision soon. Training camps will be underway in less than a month, and the Raptors will want to be settled in their new home before then.