Where Raptors will call ‘home’ weighing on team as offseason heats up


If you were asked to suddenly move temporarily for work, say for about six months, what is the minimum notice you expect from your boss?Anything less than two weeks would sound ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

For example, when you consider the need to find accommodation and what to do with your old accommodation; decide whether it makes sense to bring the family or not; not to mention the simple logistics of packing or shipping a car or whatever pops up on a to-do list before a big move, two weeks would seem like the bare minimum – a time that was only suitable because ‘a month or more was not an option.

This is where the Toronto Raptors will be starting Tuesday morning – two weeks away from training camp, but with no assurances of where it will be.

The rest of the NBA, little concerned with these existential concerns, continues without them.

The trade moratorium was lifted Monday afternoon, the draft is Wednesday evening, and the trading window for free agents opens Friday at 6 p.m., with signatures potentially taking place on Sunday.

It promises to be an eventful week and the process has already started.

The Oklahoma City Thunder continued their ambitious plan to rack up all draft picks in every draft as they reportedly made a deal to trade Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns.

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly bolstered their title defense aspirations by agreeing to trade Danny Green to the Oklahoma City Thunder for playmaker Dennis Schroeder. In both deals, the Thunder acquired a first-round pick, giving OKC about a billion of them in the next six drafts.

Players choose their options – yes, shocking as it sounds, Stanley Johnson chose his option in the final year of his contract with Toronto, wisely deeming it unlikely that anyone would pay him $ 3.8 million in this tight. knitting market to play the 150 minutes the little-used striker was on the ground last season.

Players are declining their options as well – Robin Lopez is now a free agent after playing a season alongside his brother in Milwaukee. If the Raptors’ front office had a sense of humor, they could sign deals with wild-haired Lopez and former training partner Serge Ibaka, just to see what happens at training camp.

There is no doubt that Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster are on top of things as they try to figure out what to do with their pending free agents – Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, Rondae Hollis -Jefferson and Ibaka – as well as doing it. the math on whether it makes sense to sign OG Anunoby for a rookie extension before the start of the season, or wait to sign him as a restricted free agent next summer.

But at the same time, they have to answer calls from various agents and, in some cases, from the players themselves with a simple but urgent question:

Where is training camp and where are we playing this season?

“I do not know what to say [my client]Said an agent for a Raptors player. “He’s quite particular about his living conditions and likes to have it all well in advance, but at the moment the team is not saying anything so we have to wait. I’ll hire a real estate agent in Tampa tomorrow just in case.

Based on multiple sources, this appears to be an arrangement where the Raptors play their Tampa games at Amalie Arena (home of the Tampa Bay Lightning) and train in the nearby community – the University of South Florida has hosted NBA teams for training camps in the past, as an example – is the primary option if the Raptors cannot obtain the necessary exemptions from the quarantine requirements to cross the border freely.

But even at the end of last week, Fort Lauderdale and Nashville were mentioned as options for agents asking where their clients might be directed.

The Raptors continue to say their first option is to train in Toronto at their OVO training facility and play games at Scotiabank Arena.

They have been working on options B, C and D in parallel, but time is running out.

Several agents representing Raptors players contacted by Sportsnet said they had received little or no information from the team on where their customers might be heading in the short or long term.

“It’s a bit surprising,” said one of them. “You’d think they’d be like, ‘We really want to be in Toronto but just in case familiarize yourself with Tampa – or wherever – just in case.

Even with Ujiri’s close relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, there doesn’t seem to be much obvious traction on whether to play in Toronto this season.

“It’s a very protocol-driven process,” said a team manager. “Send us your proposal and we will evaluate it” and that’s about it. ”

Ultimately, the decision of who can be exempted from the border quarantine requirements is made by Health Canada.

When I contacted the office of Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, the response was clear as mud:

“The Government of Canada’s priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. The resumption of sporting events in Canada must be undertaken in accordance with Canada’s plan to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19. Like other countries, Canada is working on plans for a measured recovery in sports, including professional and amateur sporting events.

“The government is ready to consider the Toronto Raptors’ proposals, which include a comprehensive public health plan approved by the Public Health Agency of Canada, and to gain written support from provincial or territorial public health officials.

In the meantime, Ujiri has made subtle incitement to the media – a CBC interview here, an op-ed in the Toronto Star there – to make his position known and perhaps make it easier (at least optically) for the government. grant the required exceptions and exemptions even as the second wave of COVID-19 continues to increase on both sides of the border with no peak in sight.

After all, the NHL, MLB, and MLS – not to mention the CHL and other lesser leagues that operate in Canada and the United States – will follow with interest.

One way or another, a precedent could be set.

These are general issues. But for the player trying to figure out if he needs to rent an apartment in Toronto or Tampa or for the Raptors staff member waiting to find out if he has to leave his family for months at a time – again – he just wants to know: Where are we going and when.

Tuesday is two weeks until training camp.


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