The Raptors would like to play next season in Toronto. However, travel from the United States to Canada is currently restricted — including a 14-day quarantine — and, considering the increase in positive tests in the USA recently, those restrictions could remain for a while.
That has the Raptors considering a stateside residence for next season, especially if the season starts Dec. 22. Newark, the former home of the New Jersey Nets, is an option, reports Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. He also lists other possible stops.
The Raptors have spoken to the operators of the Prudential Center about using their 19,500-seat arena, according to a source. It’s one of a few options for Masai Ujiri’s squad, and a preference for the NBA because of its close proximity to all of Toronto’s division foes.
The Raptors have also discussed playing in Tampa Bay or Nashville or as tenants in another NBA team’s arena, according to a source. Kansas City pitched its T-Mobile Center. Louisville was floated and reportedly shot down. There’s been speculation about the team moving over the border to Buffalo, just like the Toronto Blue Jays during the last MLB season. While some of those destinations offer a warmer climate, none can match the geographical sense of The Rock.
Louisville is dead as a potential home base. Beyond that, just about any city with an NBA-ready arena can make a case. Most likely, there will not be fans in the building for these games — or if so, it likely will be a limited number of fans later in the season — so the fan base is not a consideration. The ability to reduce travel will certainly factor into the decision, which favors Newark. Ultimately, the Raptors will choose the best financial offer
A decision on the Raptors’ next move will be based on when the season starts and if the availability of rapid testing for the coronavirus would allow the Raptors to play in Toronto because the quarantine period would go away. Once the NBA and players union agree on the look and timing of next season, expect a Raptors decision quickly.