Toronto Raptors: Concerns grow over the NBA’s return-to-play plan

With a new spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida, will this compromise the Toronto Raptors and the rest of the league resuming the 2019-20 NBA season?

Any optimism and excitement about the Toronto Raptors and the rest of the NBA returning to action has always been tinged with caution. We now have a prime example of why this is the case

Several states in the United States have seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases since lockdown restrictions were eased. From the NBA’s perspective, one of the states showing a worrying spike is Florida.

As reported by ESPN‘s Baxter Holmes and Zach Lowe, Florida recorded 4,049 new cases on Saturday. This represented the third consecutive day the state had recorded record highs.

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As a result, there is now an increased concern among NBA players about the return-to-play plan. We already know some players have been vocal that the 2019-20 season should not resume, and you imagine there will now be more calls to cancel it altogether.

We can certainly appreciate this sentiment among the players, both in the NBA and around professional sports leagues as a whole. At the same time however, we believe it is still too early to make such a decision.

The general perception is that the NBA has been at the forefront among north american professional sport leagues, in how they have handled the entire situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Adam Silver has received universal praise from players, media and the general public alike.

In this respect, Silver acknowledged the recent spike in Florida during a call with high-level team executives. As per Baxter and Lowe, his tone was resolute but somber.

While appreciating how serious the situation is in Florida, Silver is confident the NBA’s bubble concept will work. As per Jonathan Soveta of theScore, this confidence is helped by cases in Orlando specifically not climbing as sharply as other areas within Florida.

Regardless, there is no doubt the NBA has to reevaluate their return-to-play plan which includes a 113-page health guidelines booklet, in order to alleviate concern among the players and personnel in general. If nothing else, recent actions give you confidence in Silver’s ability to do this, with the trust in him unequaled in any other pro sports league in North America.

Improvements could well see increased COVID-19 tests for more people. As noted by Baxter and Lowe, players mentioned the fact Walt Disney World staffers who will not reside in the NBA campus are currently not subject to any testing.

As things stand, the NBA season is set to resume on July 30. However, while the NBA would obviously prefer to stick to this timeline, the situation could easily change pending how things play out between now and then.

For example, it could get to a point where the NBA decides to cancel the seeding games and just advance straight to the playoffs. (In this scenario, at least the Toronto Raptors are already in a playoff spot.) As much as this may seem unlikely or unfair, consider that there is a theoretical deadline to conclude the 2019-20 campaign, in order to give the league time to start next season.

Ultimately, there is every faith Silver will get this right, while also doing what’s best for everyone concerned. In this respect it has now never been clearer that the virus is still controlling the narrative, and the NBA must react accordingly.

Next: Top 10 moments of Raptors' 2019-20 season so far

What is your take on the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Florida? Are you concerned about the Toronto Raptors and the rest of the NBA returning to action, or confident the 2019-20 season will resume as planned? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.