Ahead of Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke with reporters at Phoenix Suns Arena as part of his annual pre-Finals opener media availability.
TAKEAWAYS: Silver discusses the state of the league
Following an opening statement, Silver fielded questions from those in attendance, the first of which came from Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, who asked Silver if he expected the Toronto Raptors to open the 2021-22 season in their home market of Toronto, Ontario.
While the situation is constantly evolving, Silver's honest response contained some guarded optimism that the Raptors would be able to return to Canada for the upcoming season.
"It's unclear yet," Silver began. "I know on behalf of Larry Tanenbaum, who is the governor of the team and happens to be the chairman of the board of the NBA, he's very hopeful that Ontario will open up and that they will be able to have the team back in Toronto.
"I know it's incredibly meaningful to the team," the commissioner continued. "I think there was that yet additional burden placed on the Raptors more than any other team by having to relocate for the season. But we are hopeful the team will be back if things continue as we're seeing in Canada right now."
Due to travel restrictions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Raptors were forced to spend the entirety of the 2020-21 regular season in the temporary home market of Tampa, FL. After initially just committing to Tampa for the first half of the season, the franchise made a mid-season announcement that it would remain in Tampa through the season finale.
As indicated by Silver, Toronto spending the entire season in a temporary home added additional strain to what was an already difficult season. The result was the Raptors' most unsuccessful season in nearly a decade, as the franchise missed the postseason with a 27-45 record, including a 16-20 mark at its temporary home of Amalie Arena in Tampa.
MORE: How much did playing in Tampa impact Raptors?
With respect to trends in Canada, fans were welcomed back for basketball at 10 percent capacity for the final rounds of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, British Columbia in early July.
In June, the NHL negotiated with the Canadian government and public health authorities to allow for American teams to cross the border for the final two playoff rounds without doing a full quarantine, with the regulation that travelling parties agreed to a modified bubble.
Ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft the Raptors remain headquartered in Tampa, where they are working out prospects ahead of their three selections in the draft.
The 2021 NBA preseason opens in early October, while the 2021-22 regular season will tip-off later in the month, returning the league to its regular timing following a late start and finish to the 2020-21 campaign.
Stick with NBA.com for more updates surrounding the Raptors moving forward.
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