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#WeTheSouth

Basketball

As the great Whitney Houston once asked, didn’t we almost have it all? Just after the Toronto Raptors signed one of our all-time faves to an all-time contract, we lost two others to the bright lights of California.

November 23, 2020
SOURCE: JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI/USA TODAY SPORTS
SOURCE: JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI/USA TODAY SPORTS

The GIST: As the great Whitney Houston once asked, didn’t we almost have it all? Just after the Toronto Raptors signed one of our all-time faves to an all-time contract, we lost two others to the bright lights of California.

Oh no. Tell me everything: The Raps moved quickly when NBA free agency opened on Friday, re-signing Fred VanVleet to a four-year, $85 million (!!!) contract by Saturday afternoon. VanVleet joined the Raps in 2016 after going undrafted, and his new contract is the largest for an undrafted player in NBA history.

  • The high didn’t last long though. About 12 hours later, Serge Ibaka signed with the LA Clippers, joining another instrumental piece of the 2019 NBA Championship–winning roster, Kawhi Leonard. Ibaka confirmed the news yesterday with this heartbreaker of an IG post. Miss him already.
  • And then, the final knife through our Raptor-loving hearts came last night, when news broke that Marc Gasol was finalizing a deal with the LA Lakers. Seriously guys, what does SoCal have that TO doesn’t? Sun? Beaches? Above freezing temperatures? …take us with you?

Boo. So where does that leave the Raps?: Unfortunately, without two of their very reliable big men. Ibaka and Gasol won’t be easy to replace, but the Raps have already signed Aron Baynes and re-signed Chris Boucher to help fill the gap.

  • Looking ahead to next season, the Raps are hoping to sign reigning NBA MVP Milwaukee Buck Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced YONNIS ANDEDO-KOONPO). 2021 can’t come soon enough.

Any other Raps news?: On the sunny side (literally), the Raps have found an American home to ride out the winter pandemic. While the US-Canada border remains closed, the team will play out of Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida, home of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Hopefully they’ve left some winning juju in the place.