Welcome to Smashville, Toronto Raptors?
Joining a growing list of cities that appear to be backup options for the Raptors should the Canada/U.S. border remain closed for non-essential travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic is Nashville, according to The Athletic's Adam Vingan.
Citing a source with knowledge of the team's plans, Vingan reports Raptors officials visited Nashville earlier this week and the city is being considered as a potential temporary home for the team. Also on the Raptors' list is Kansas City, Mo., and Tampa, Fla., per Vingan. Bridgestone Arena, which hosts the NHL's Predators, is often a venue for the SEC men's basketball tournament.
Late last month, Sportsnet's Steven Loung reported that Buffalo is also making its case in the event they can’t play in Toronto. The Toronto Blue Jays turned to Buffalo's Sahlen Field as a host for the 2020 MLB season after several other candidate cities fell through.
With the possibility of a geographically orientated schedule with a focus on inter-conference and inter-divisional play, Sportsnet's Michael Grange reported the Raptors would likely prefer a home in the East.
For now, however, the Raptors' No. 1 priority is playing games in Toronto, if possible.
Earlier this week, NBPA player leadership voted to tentatively accept the league’s plan to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, with training camps opening Dec. 1 and each team playing 72 games.