Report: Some Raptors Players 'Counting Down the Days' Until They Can Leave Tampa

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 8, 2021

TAMPA, FL- MAY 6: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors smiles during the game against the Washington Wizards on May 6, 2021 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images)
Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

With the NBA season winding down, members of the Toronto Raptors are looking forward to a well-earned vacation.

Toronto is four games back of the Washington Wizards for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference, so failing to make the playoffs is a near-certainty at this point. The Raptors fell in overtime to the Wizards on Thursday, with TSN's Josh Lewenberg writing they "probably didn’t lose sleep over the loss."

"To little surprise, there are players on the team and people within the organization who have been counting down the days until they can pack their bags, take their families and get out of Tampa on the morning of May 17, per sources," Lewenberg reported. "It’s hard to blame them, all things considered."

As Lewenberg explained, a number of factors have led Toronto to mentally check out by this point. 

On a pair of occasions, the franchise was without key personnel for multiple games because of positive COVID-19 tests. That played a role in the team winning only one game over the month of March.

Star player Pascal Siakam was suspended for one game in December for disciplinary reasons and then got into a heated argument with head coach Nick Nurse in March.

In general, the Raptors have been stuck in the NBA's version of purgatory, where they're neither good enough to contend for a title nor bad enough to throw in the towel entirely to focus on lottery odds.

All of this has transpired as the organization was forced to play home games thousands of miles away from Toronto. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has all but eliminated traditional home-court atmospheres for the time being, Raptors players and staffers have had their entire routines upended for months.

It's not all that different from the difficulties the players in the NBA's Walt Disney World Resort bubble faced last season.

If the Raptors were near the top of the East right now, then playing in Tampa would probably remain at least a little more tolerable. But nobody can blame them for wanting to conclude what's effectively a lost season.