Though it continues to sound like a bad idea, the Raptors are officially on their way to Fort Myers, Florida, as part of the first phase of the NBA’s 2019-20 season restart and conclusion.
As per their official press release, select players and staff are heading out of Toronto today in advance of entering the actual so-called NBA Campus at Disney World, near Orlando. We wrote a bit about this last week, as it became clear what the Raptors would have to do as part of the NBA’s resumption.
The Raptors’ press release goes on to mention that there will be no group workouts and that “strict protocols have been designed to ensure this initial level of access will take place in a safe, controlled, and healthy way.” Thanks to being located in Canada, the Raptors will be quarantined first in Orlando — as opposed to in Toronto — before being able to enter the campus with other NBA teams and personnel. Per the reported timelines, the Raps will have to wait until July 7th or so before getting on to Phase 4 of this process, as we previously outlined here.
At this point, there does not seem to be much more we, or anyone, can say. The NBA is going to restart over the month of July in Orlando, getting each of its team’s players and staff back up to speed so it can restart the season at the end of next month. There are still rumblings from various players — including a few well-known names like Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard — that this is all quite a bad idea. It was reported today that Davis Bertans, an upcoming free agent, is declining to participate altogether. The number of COVID-19 cases continues to spike in Florida as the local, state, and federal government response continues to be extremely lackluster in all quadrants. What this all means in the context of the NBA’s decision-making remains unclear — or, perhaps, negligible.
For the Raptors, the calculus right now appears to be simple: follow the rules, accept the league protocol, and make a good-faith attempt at participating in this season addendum so as to properly defend their 2019 NBA title. The question regarding potential future cases of coronavirus inside the Disney World bubble looks to still be pushed off for another day, a bridge to cross when we all come to it together.
But of course, we won’t come to it together — it’ll be left to the players and staff sequestered in a vacant sports and hotel complex in the middle of an American state that seems ready to let the virus kill people with impunity. They’ll have to deal with it as best they can.
In that case, there’s not much we can say or do now, except worry.