WE THE SOUTH: Raptors to start season in Tampa after feds nix Toronto plan
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The fact that the Raptors will start the season playing from Tampa does not necessarily mean they will finish there, however.
The league is planning to release the schedule in two parts with a natural break on March 4. Webster said the team would not rule out a return to Toronto for the remainder of the schedule at that point — dependent, of course, on the situation with the pandemic and where the government was in terms of border closures.
“They say absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Ujiri wrote in his release. “I’m not sure that’s possible for us.”
FREE AGENCY STARTS SLOW
Normally when NBA free agency opens, it does so with a bang. Not so much this year. Officially the deals aren’t announced until Sunday but that has never stopped the leaks and announcements in the past.
It’s no surprise that in 2020, the pandemic year, things are unfolding at a different pace.
There was no immediate news on the Fred VanVleet or Serge Ibaka front, unless you consider Ibaka’s tease tweet showing him on a private jet and asking his followers where they thought he was going.
VanVleet remains a strong candidate to return, given the team’s desire to keep him and their knowledge of what it will take financially. Ibaka has lots of suitors, but it’s unlikely any can offer as much money as the Raptors can on a one-year deal. That said, he could opt to take less to play with a more sure-fire contender.
As for the deals that did leak, there were a few of interest.
The Atlanta Hawks shelled out more than $60-million for three years of the sweet stroke of forward Danilo Gallinari.
Dwight Howard intially appeared to have re-signed in Los Angeles with the Lakers, but wound up signing in Philadelphia with the Sixers and new head coach Doc Rivers on a one-year deal.
With Howard leaving, there were reports the Lakers were turning their attention to either DeMarcus Cousins or Raptors’ free agent Marc Gasol.