Less than two weeks ago, the idea of Louisville playing host to an NBA team seemed like a real possibility.
But roughly 24 hours later, that idea was all but shut down, and another report from NBC Sports that came out earlier on Sunday is saying something similar. According to Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News, the city of Louisville is no longer being considered as a temporary home for the Toronto Raptors in the upcoming 2020-21 NBA season.
“Louisville was floated and reportedly shot down,” Bondy said.
Raptors have held discussions with Prudential Center owners about playing in Newark: source https://t.co/sUq5eaLTi0
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) November 1, 2020
“The Raptors have also discussed playing in Tampa Bay or Nashville or as tenants in another NBA team’s arena, according to a source. Kansas City pitched its T-Mobile Center. Louisville was floated and reportedly shot down. There’s been speculation about the team moving over the border to Buffalo, just like the Toronto Blue Jays during the last MLB season.”
Not long after the initial Yahoo Sports article was posted that indicated the city of Louisville was being considered as a short-term home for the Canada-based Raptors, Louisville businessman and former NBA Players Association president Junior Bridgeman denied the reports. However, the main reason for the Raptors looking elsewhere seemingly has to do with the shooting of Breonna Taylor by police and how the team–and the league as a whole–fought tirelessly against the situation and how it was handled by local officials.
Looking ahead to the new season, the Raptors will not be permitted to travel from Canada to the United States on a regular basis, meaning they will have to set up shop somewhere down south and play out the season there until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Louisville is one of the few NBA-less cities in America that has an NBA-ready arena and it could have been a pathway to one day bringing in a full-time franchise. But the Breonna Taylor case has put a sour taste in the mouths of NBA players and personnel when it comes to creating any sort of relationship with Louisville.
According to Helin, the Raptors are looking at Newark (NJ), Nashville, and Tampa Bay.