On top of everything else the NBA has to figure out before it begins next season — when free agency begins, the salary cap and, of course, when the 2020-21 season will start — the league also has to determine where the Toronto Raptors will play. The Raptors are the only team in the NBA that plays outside of the United States, and with international travel being more complicated than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it throws yet another wrench into the equation for the league.
Several ideas have been offered to the Raptors. One suggestion was playing in Kansas City, which has been pushed by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Louisville, Kentucky has also been brought up as a possible location, but the Raptors are “reluctant” to play there because of the shooting and death of Breonna Taylor earlier this year. However, a new location has come to the forefront as the Raptors have discussed playing their home games in Newark, New Jersey for the upcoming season, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
“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.”
Geographically, it makes the most sense compared to other cities that have pitched themselves, as Toronto plays in the Atlantic Division, with the Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Nets and Knicks all in close proximity to Newark. The NBA has been discussing ways to reduce travel for the upcoming season due to COVID-19, and the Raptors playing in this location would certainly help matters.
If Toronto does end up relocating temporarily for the upcoming season, it would solve one of the many questions the NBA has to answer before playing ball again. However, the Raptors are “hopeful” that they can still play in Canada. If they can’t play up north, though, the Raptors could do what the Toronto Blue Jays did in the MLB and play their home games in Buffalo, which has also been offered up as a temporary home for the 2019 NBA champions.
Like everything with the league right now, though, it’s still fluid. But if the NBA does ultimately decide to start the season on Dec. 22, which has been floated around, then decisions will need to be made quickly regarding where Toronto will play. However, if the league decides to concede to the players union and start the 2020-21 season on Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Day, then it gives the league and the Raptors more time to figure out where they’ll call home for next season.
Courtesy: CBS Sports