One of the biggest names on the free agent market is staying right where he’s been.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, guard Fred VanVleet will stay with the Toronto Raptors on a four-year deal. The contract is worth $85 million, with the fourth year set to be a player option.
VanVleet was expected to be in high demand on the open market, but he ultimately opts to stay in Toronto. The Raptors will be very happy with that, as he developed into a regular starter and a leader for the team in 2019-20. He had a breakout season by averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game.
Canada has strict COVID-19 protocols in place regarding travel, and the Toronto Raptors were unable to find a way around those regulations for the start of the 2020-21 season. As a result, they will be playing their “home games” elsewhere.
The Raptors announced on Friday that they will begin the 2020-21 season playing in Tampa Bay rather than Toronto. Canada currently requires anyone crossing the border to quarantine for 14 days, and they are not making any exceptions for the Raptors or the NBA.
You can read the full statement from the team below:
The Raptors will start this season playing in Tampa instead of Toronto. (Canada currently requires anyone crossing the border to quarantine for 14 days each time – obviously not workable for the Raptors themselves, or any opponents coming to play them.) Team statement here: pic.twitter.com/DJAmJaPrW6
The Toronto Raptors are being recruited by one big-name athlete as they search for a venue to play their games next season.
Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes reacted to the news Monday that Louisville was an option for Raptors’ games this coming NBA season due to Canada’s ban on travel from the United States. Mahomes enthusiastically suggested that the Raptors should come to Kansas City.
The Raptors are currently the NBA’s only team based in Canada. The Blue Jays, Canada’s only MLB team, faced a similar problem this season and played their home games in Buffalo, N.Y.
As for Kansas City, they have not hosted NBA basketball since the Kansas City Kings relocated to Sacramento, Calif. in 1985. Mahomes himself played basketball in high school and once even got into hot water for partaking in a game of pickup hoops. Thus, he is obviously an enthusiast of the game and would love to see the Raptors make their way to town.
The Toronto Raptors came up just short of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals when they lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games, but the team has shown they are committed to head coach Nick Nurse going forward.
Nurse is in just his second season as Toronto’s head coach. The first obviously could not have gone better, as he led the team to its first NBA title with a lot of help from Kawhi Leonard. Even after losing Leonard in free agency, the Raptors still managed to compile a 53-19 regular-season record and come one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had high praise for Nurse after Boston defeated the Raptors in a hard-fought series. Nurse, 53, has been with the Raptors since 2013, and he clearly has earned the respect of Masai Ujiri and the rest of the team’s brass. It’s easy to see why.
The Miami Heat are two wins away from pulling off an upset over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Losing the series would be tough for the Bucks to swallow, but the long-term impact of an early playoff exit could be even greater.
As Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports phrased it, the Heat’s impressive showing thus far against Milwaukee could wind up being an excellent recruiting pitch. Miami has kept Giannis from exploding the same way the Toronto Raptors did in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. That’s one of the main reasons Goodwill was told by a source in the Orlando bubble that the Heat and Raptors are considered by many to be the frontrunners to sign Antetokounmpo if he becomes a free agent after next season.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has been outsmarted by his counterpart Erik Spoelstra in the first two games of the series. That, of course, is the same Erik Spoelstra who won championships with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He now appears to be getting the most out of Jimmy Butler, and that track record has to impress Antetokounmpo.
A lot can change in the span of a few games, and the Bucks certainly aren’t dead and buried yet. Antetokounmpo may have to make an uncomfortable adjustment for Milwaukee to turn things around. If the Bucks do end up losing the series, the possibility of Giannis leaving Milwaukee will become an even more popular discussion.
The Toronto Raptors have dug themselves into a big hole against the Boston Celtics after letting Game 2 slip away on Tuesday night. Jayson Tatum was by far the best player on the floor, but Raptors coach Nick Nurse felt the Celtics star got some help from the officials.
Following his team’s 102-99 loss, Nurse expressed frustration over Tatum shooting 14 free throws. He complimented Tatum on making some big shots but said the referees “took very good care of him tonight.”
Raptors coach Nick Nurse on Celtics’ Jayson Tatum after Game 2 loss: “The only frustrating part is that he shoots 14 free throws tonight, which is as much as our whole team shoots. … They took very good care of him tonight.” pic.twitter.com/q8wwbsOi7Z
The Raptors actually shot 19 free throws as a team, so Nurse was exaggerating a bit. The Celtics shot 25, with Tatum taking the majority of them. Tatum also attacked the basket more than any other player on the floor, though coaches never like to see that type of free throw disparity.
Toronto led for the majority of the game, and Nurse’s team was up eight to start the fourth quarter. The Celtics then chipped away at the lead and put the game away with clutch three-point shooting in the fourth quarter. The Raptors need to focus more on perimeter defense in Game 3.
Complaining about the free throw disparity might result in a fine for Nurse, but it could also lead to a few more calls going his team’s way in a must-win game on Thursday night.
The Toronto Raptors met on Tuesday to discuss how they want to respond to the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer. One of the options includes refusing to play in Thursday’s playoff series opener against the Boston Celtics.
The Raptors have floated the idea of boycotting Game 1, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps. Veteran guard Fred VanVleet confirmed after Tuesday’s practice that the team held a meeting. While he did not say the Raptors are considering skipping Game 1, he discussed the impact he thinks a boycott could have.
“We knew coming here or not coming here was not going to stop anything, but I think ultimately playing or not playing puts pressure on somebody,” VanVleet said. “So, for example, this happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, if I’m correct? Would it be nice if, in a perfect world, we all say we’re not playing, and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks — that’s going to trickle down. If he steps up to the plate and puts pressure on the district attorney’s office, and state’s attorney, and governors, and politicians there to make real change and get some justice.”
Blake, who is black, was shot several times in the back by police who were responding to a domestic violence call in Kenosha on Sunday. He has been left paralyzed from the waist down, and doctors are unsure if the paralysis will be permanent. The incident is under investigation.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said his team also met to discuss the incident. Stevens said none of his players said specifically that they were considering not playing on Thursday. He called the video of the incident “horrifying.”
The Toronto Raptors’ bench set a record during the team’s win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night.
The Raptors beat the Nets 150-122 in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series to get the sweep. The bench accounted for 100 of the team’s 150 points, which is an NBA record for points scored by a bench during a game.
Norman Powell led the bench with 29 points and thought the record was “cool.”
“I think it’s cool, neat to have your name etched in the record book. It’s cool, I guess. (But) my main focus is winning… It’s a cool record to have but I’m not gonna harp on it or think about it. On to the next,” Powell said via TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.
In addition to Powell, Serge Ibaka scored 27, Terence Davis had 14, and Matt Thomas scored 12 points.
The Raptors’ bench got the funny Wilt Chamberlain treatment:
The NBA is set to return to action at the end of July, and numerous questions pertaining to the logistics of the league’s plan remain. While we are learning the answers to those questions gradually, NBA teams must now question how they will perform when the season does return.
With playoff basketball on the horizon, here are the most critical questions surrounding the championship contenders in the Eastern Conference.
The 2019-20 NBA season is suspended, with the standings frozen in place as of mid-March. The league has every hope of resuming the season and giving teams a chance to finish what they started. There are certain teams with a better chance of winning bigger than others.
These five teams in particular had a legitimate chance to win an NBA title in 2020 and will want to make sure that they get to play out that opportunity.