NBA rumors: Prudential Center a serious candidate to host Toronto Raptors games during pandemic | When could decision be made?

The NBA might be returning to New Jersey.

The Toronto Raptors could need a temporary home for the 2020-21 season due to Canadian travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, and Prudential Center in Newark is being considered one of the potential possibilities.

A person with knowledge of the situation told NJ Advance Media everything is teed up to make a Raptors move to The Rock happen. With the NBA schedule tentatively slated to start in late December, the person said a decision on the matter could come within the next week.

The Raptors and the NBA are also looking at other arenas around the United States to host the team’s home games this season, including Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and Amalie Arena Tampa. Both cities have NHL arenas without NBA teams, so, like Prudential Center, they have the schedule flexibility to make it work.

But the key aspects of choosing a temporary home for the Raptors are scheduling and travel. The league wants to make an effort to keep the Raptors in the northeast to avoid long flights between back-to-back games. So from a logistical standpoint of keeping the Raptors closer to other teams in the Atlantic Division, Prudential Center makes the most sense.

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The league could also be exploring Barclays Center as an option, where both the Raptors and Brooklyn Nets would play home games there this season. The New York Islanders are not slated to play at Barclays Center anymore, since they will spend the 2020-21 season at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before moving to their new arena in Belmont in 2021-22.

While Prudential Center hasn’t hosted an NBA game since the Nets moved to Brooklyn in 2012, the facility is equipped to do so, since the Nets played two seasons at The Rock from 2010-12. Prudential Center doesn’t have a basketball practice facility in the building like it does for hockey, but other local venues could serve the Raptors’ needs.

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Chris Ryan may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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