Sports (Feb/March 2023)

Raptors Play It Safe At Trade Deadline

The team will have to push through its problems for the rest of the season, but expect chaos in the off-season

Abdul Malik

A promising start to the Toronto Raptors season gave way to an eclectic year of embarrassing losses, unfortunate injuries, and strange decisions.

Over-extended players, reports of locker room unhappiness, and lacklustre depth are all things that could have been fixed at the February 9th NBA Trade Deadline.

But they weren’t.

The Raptors made one move: bringing back center Jakob Poeltl from the San Antonio Spurs. He was the other guy in the 2018 deal that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto. The Raptors gave up Khem Birch, a protected first-round draft pick, and other, lower-impact picks.

This initially seems reasonable. Birch is a perennial injury magnet who fits the Spurs tanking season. Poeltl, on an expiring contract, has developed into a solid player, and the Raptors are confident about re-signing him. The first-round pick they gave up is high value, but they get to keep it if they’re egregiously bad.

It’s everything else that doesn’t make sense.

Amid blockbuster trades in the West, like Kevin Durant joining the Phoenix Suns to form a “Big 3,” several Raptors could have commanded a one-time fortune to bolster a team with championship aspirations. In particular, trading the allegedly disgruntled defensive maestro OG Anunoby seemed obvious. But reports suggest the Raptors overcommitted to their asking price. For a team stuck in the middle, a place President Masai Ujiri said he never wants to be, it was a missed opportunity.

This season has been defined by existential questions about the Raptors' direction. They’re too good to tank, and not good enough to win it all.

For now, it appears there are still no answers. All eyes are on the off-season now, where they could lose a lot more on their expiring contracts and traded picks than they stood to gain at the trade deadline. 


The Grind Staff

WNBA Coming for Pre-season Game in May

Could a team set up shop in Toronto?

Finally, a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) game will be played in Canada. Well, a pre-season game. The Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx will play on Saturday, May 13, at Scotiabank Arena.

Toronto is no doubt a basketball city, and is much bigger than many American cities with WNBA teams. Is a WNBA franchise in the works for Toronto? Here’s hoping.

Leafs on track for playoffs

The Leafs have had a solid season so far, and should safely make it to the playoffs. It’s no surprise really, with offensive powerhouses like Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

The big question down the stretch, aside from goaltending and staying healthy, is whether they can break the team’s recent curse and finally make it past the first round of the playoffs.  

Men’s Soccer Team Playing Honduras in Toronto, March 28

The team’s first game since the 2022 FIFA tournament

Onto the next one. The Canadian men's national soccer team will play their first match in Canada since the 2022 FIFA World Cup on March 28 at BMO Field. They will host Honduras, who defeated the Canadian side 2-1 last June. Tickets go on sale February 27.

The game is part of qualifying for the Nations League tournament of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf). It is part of the long road back to the next World Cup in 2026, being hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Point King: LeBron James breaks all-time NBA scoring record

With a fade-away jump shot on February 7, Lebron James became the NBA’s all time leading scorer. “The King,” aka “The Kid from Akron” broke the record set by legend Kareem Abdul-Jabar in 1984.

Few thought the record would fall. And few thought LeBron would live up to all the hype.

But here we are, with 38-year-old LeBron, in his 20th consecutive year in the league, with four championships behind him, putting up impressive numbers and showing no signs of slowing down.

Whether his struggling Lakers can make the playoffs this year is another question.