Part of the reason is because the Canadian government reportedly refused to allow the Raptors and the NBA to operate in Canada.
AP source: The NBA and the Raptors have been denied to play In Canada.— Rob Gillies (@rgilliescanada) November 20, 2020
This is not a surprise because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the disparity between how well the U.S. and Canada have managed their responses since last spring. The United States has a much higher case and death rate per capita than its northern neighbor. And in fact, both countries have a mutual travel ban on all non-essential travel until further notice.
This decision certainly can have longer term implications, like whether the NBA should continue to have a team in Canada or not. Or perhaps, the Raptors should consider leaving the NBA and try to be the flagship team of a new-high level Canadian basketball league among other things. These are wild ideas in and of themselves (though not so wild in this 2020 environment). So let’s just focus on their move to the Tampa Bay area for the short term.
With the Raptors in Florida, they could take advantage of having more fans in the stands because the Florida state government is more likely to be lenient on measures like social distancing, face masks and whether bars should be open. While those are health risks to everyone in the Raptors organization, they will at least get more short term revenue coming in the door than if the team was in a jurisdiction that bans fans altogether.
But there’s more.
The NBA also will have three teams in the state, including the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. That relocation got NBA insider Tom Haberstroh to ask whether the Raptors should go to the Southeast Division and whether the Wizards should move to the Atlantic Division, at least for this season.
To minimize travel in a pandemic, would the Tampa Raptors and Washington Wizards swap divisions?— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) November 20, 2020
The rationale for a one-year swap is simple. During the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the winter, teams should spend less time traveling to the extent possible.
The Wizards would travel a lot less to play teams like the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. While it’s a more natural geographic fit for them in my opinion, they would probably have a rougher time competing in the Atlantic given that most of the teams already are among the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Would you like to see the Wizards play in the Atlantic Division for a year with the Raptors heading to the Southeast? Let us know in the comments below.