Get out your Kyle Lowry jerseys, the Toronto Raptors are officially coming to Tampa for the 2020-2021 NBA season.
The decision comes after the Raptors were unable to come to an agreement to play games in Toronto, with Canada’s restrictions on people crossing the border requiring people to quarantine for 14 days following their entering the country.
The Raptors are coming off a very successful 2019-2020 campaign that saw them advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, losing to the Boston Celtics in 7 games. The previous year they won it all, with Kawhi Leonard leading them to the promised land, defeating the then-defending champion Golden State Warriors.
The Raptors are generally expected to repeat the success they had last year, as their two best players, point guard Kyle Lowry and power forward Pascal Siakam (affectionately known as “Spicy P”) but they have a couple questions they need to answer with their roster during the offseason.
Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet are two starters that may need replacing, as both are free agents that are expected to get paid handsomely for their services. They already have a guy that could fill in for VanVleet on their roster in Norman Powell, but Ibaka may require a trade or a free agent signing. Plus, while he is an upgrade over FVV defensively, Powell is not nearly the scorer VanVleet is.
I would expect the Raptors to try to re-sign VanVleet while going to the trade market to replace Ibaka. VanVleet is a talented scorer that plays well with Lowry and in the Raptors system, and he seems to enjoy playing for the Raptors. They could replace Ibaka with the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner, as Turner provides the similar shot-blocking and floor spacing that Ibaka provides. But that probably means giving up a couple first-round picks and one of their solid rotation guys, like the aforementioned Powell or former G-League sensation Chris Boucher. Turner is a good bit younger than Ibaka and is one of the more underrated big men in the league.
There is also some turmoil with one of the Raptors’ talented rookies from last year. Terrence Davis, a member of the 2nd-Team All-Rookie team this past season, was involved in a domestic dispute and was arrested on several charges in October. Neither the Raptors nor the NBA have released any definitive statements regarding Davis or his status for the upcoming season.
With all of that being said, get excited Tampa. The Raptors have been one of the most consistent teams in the past decade, making the playoffs every year since the 2013-2014 season and having a top-3 regular season record in the Eastern Conference every year of that time period except the 2014-2015 season. It’s likely they will extend that playoff streak and give Tampa yet another sports team to be happy about.
I, for one, am ecstatic.
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