The defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors appear eager to restart the season. It has been reported that all 17 players from the league’s only Canadian franchise are currently in the state of Florida preparing for the NBA season to resume in July.
Toronto Raptors Ready to Resume NBA Season
Raptors Players Already in Florida
With the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) hard at work ironing out the final details to resume the season, the Toronto Raptors are clearly all-in with regards to the restart.
Everyone from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to the players occupying the injured reserved spots are fully committed to the goal of defending the franchises’ 2019 NBA title this summer in Orlando, Florida.
All 17 Raptors rostered players are in Naples and scheduled to begin league-mandated COVID-19 testing on Tuesday. Raptors aren’t expected to make any roster moves before playe begins.
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) June 23, 2020
Some Hesitation About the Restart
While there are many basketball fans in Canada and the United States excited to see the return of the NBA, there also has been a lot of talk about notable players possibly sitting out the remainder of the season to address social justice issues and health concerns. The league’s testing revealed that 16 of 302 players tested positive for COVID-19. In an unrelated incident, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets also tested positive for the virus recently.
There have been reports that representatives from the NBPA are engaged in dialogue as to whether playing basketball this season will hurt the movement to address social justice issues.
NBPA's Michele Roberts: "It's a question of, does playing again harm a movement that we absolutely, unequivocally embrace? And then whether our play can, in fact, highlight, encourage and enhance this movement? That's what they're talking about." https://t.co/Zrwmp8qXge
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2020
While the dialogue is still ongoing amongst the NBPA membership, the NBA has made it clear that it will not penalize any player who decides to sit out the remainder of the season.
Health and Safety Precautions
On the topic of health and safety, it’s hard not to notice the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state of Florida recently. The NBA is taking this very seriously also as it recently released it’s health and safety protocols which were covered in a 113-page document.
One of the most important components of this restart is the location chosen. The NBA decided on campus within Disney World. A bubble site to protect and limit players and coaches from exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBA is also offering players and coaches the option of wearing an Oura Ring. This would serve as an early indication of possible exposure to COVID-19.
Teams will not have access to the data collected by the rings, but will be notified if the ring detects a person wearing it is either at higher risk for, or showing signs of, a coronavirus infection. https://t.co/UYbGJl2q1L
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 21, 2020
Still the Champs
According to ESPN senior reporter, Adrian Wojnarowski, teams are targeting July 1st to submit rosters of their eligible players to the NBA. It is expected that the actual games will start in the latter part of July, and could even include a consolation tournament.
Provided the Toronto players all pass their physicals, the Raptors will have one of the deepest rosters heading into the NBA postseason later this summer. Raptors President Masai Ujiri joined Wojnarowski on his popular podcast recently and spoke about still being recognized as the reigning NBA champions.
“I want to hold on to it as long as I can,” said Ujiri with a smile. “But I also want us to get back to basketball pretty quick here.”
As the leader of the Toronto Raptors franchise, Urjiri’s words seem to echo the sentiments of all his players and coaching staff who are already in Florida preparing to defend their 2019 NBA title. With everyone united and on the same page, the defending champions might be the team to beat this summer in Orlando.
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