Raptors Temporarily Relocating to Florida
The Toronto Raptors have announced that they will begin the 2020-21 NBA season in Tampa Bay, Florida.
There had been rumors floating around about a possible relocation, but the official announcement came on Friday.
The team had been working with the Canadian government in hopes to remain in Toronto, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement. Toronto will be playing their home games at Amalie Arena, which is the current home of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Canadian National Government cited a recent spread of COVID-19 in the United States as its main reason for failing to agree to the Raptors plan. The Raptors would not be allowed to travel between countries in an effort to keep the country of Canada locked down.
Currently, the border between the United States and Canada is closed for non-essential travel, and the NBA was looking for a waiver to eliminate the quarantine period. This waiver was ultimately denied forcing the Raptors to search for a new home.
It’s unclear how long the Raptors will be forced to play in Florida, but the issue will not be revisited until at least 2021. The Raptors are set to start training camp in just two weeks, and a decision had to be made.
Toronto has one of the best home records in the NBA over the past decade, but that was not likely going to matter this season. The league is expecting to begin play this season without fans in attendance, and that could last the entire year.
The Toronto Blue Jays faced a similar dilemma this summer when they were not allowed to play their baseball games in their host country. Toronto opted to call Buffalo, NY, home for the 2020 MLB season.
NBA Announces Season Structure
After an unprecedented 2019-20 NBA season, the league is looking to make several changes to the upcoming season as well. On Tuesday, the league announced the initial format of the upcoming season, but the entire regular-season schedule will not be released anytime soon.
The league has decided to break up the season into two halves, and each half of the schedule will have a different release date. The schedule for the First Half of the season is set to be announced near the start of training camp.
Each team will be scheduled to play 72 regular-season games during the 2020-21 season, which is 10 fewer than normal. A later start date has forced the league to shrink the regular season in hopes of finishing before the Summer Olympics.
All teams will play each conference opponent three times while playing each team from the other conference just twice. This is also a change, as it will lower the number of games between division rivals.
There will also be a play-in tournament for the final two playoff spots in each conference. This idea was unanimously approved by the Board of Governors earlier this week.
There are still many issues facing the league, but the 2020-21 season is starting to take shape.
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