VanVleet says he’s excited about Raptors’ time in Tampa


Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) reacts after hitting a three-pointer during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

TAMPA (AP) – Fred VanVleet hasn’t been back to Toronto since March and isn’t sure when he’ll be back to the city that he’ll technically be calling home for at least the next four years. In the interim, warm weather will suit him just fine.

VanVleet — the guard who finalized his four-year, $85 million contract to remain with the Raptors on Tuesday — said he’s excited for the team’s looming temporary move to Tampa. Toronto will play its home games for at least the first part of this season in Tampa because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and how the U.S-Canada border remains closed to non-essential travel.

For the second time this year, the Sunshine State becomes home-away-from-home for the Raptors. They were in Fort Myers, Florida in June for training camp before moving to the restart bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida — near Orlando — for the resumption of the regular season and then their Eastern Conference playoff matchups against Brooklyn and Boston. 

“Toronto has turned into my second home, so obviously we miss the city but I think we’ve got to be excited about what’s ahead of us,” VanVleet said. “I can’t not be excited. It won’t make the experience that great. So, we were in Florida for a while with the bubble in Orlando and right back there in Tampa, so hopefully it’s a good experience.”

VanVleet averaged a career-best 17.6 points last season and was a key part of the Raptors’ run to the 2019 NBA championship.

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