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Raptors smoothly mix present and future in pivoting from Gasol and Ibaka to Baynes, Len – Toronto Sun

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The Bucks, finalist Miami, Raptor-beaters Boston, a more balanced Philadelphia squad and Brooklyn should all be solid and another team or two usually are a lot better than expected, but this Raptors group should be in the mix in the East.

Of course getting back to where they want to be, contenders again for the NBA title, will take that second part of the plan paying off next off-season.

In the meantime, expect a competitive, fundamentally sound, reasonably deep Toronto Raptors team to take the court in Tampa Bay in 2020-21.

Considering who has exited, that doesn’t sound too bad.

BOOSTING THE BENCH

The Raptors should have an intriguing bench after adding centre Alex Len and guard/forward DeAndre Bembry to the mix.

Len, a 7-footer who split last season with Atlanta and Sacramento, was once highly-regarded enough to be in contention for the first pick of the 2013 draft by Cleveland. He ended up going fifth to Phoenix and has averaged eight points and 6.3 rebounds in 467 games. Injuries have been a major factor for the Ukraine native, but when he plays he has shown he can defend, rebound, score inside and step out with mixed success.

He’ll backup fellow newcomer Aron Baynes, with Canadian Chris Boucher likely to split time between power forward and centre.

Bembry, 6-foot-5, is known for his effort level, defence and athleticism. He can handle the ball a bit and create, but has struggled to shoot from everywhere on the floor aside from right at the rim, where he’s a good finisher. Bembry has shot just 27% from three in 189 career games, but with the status of two other potential Nick Nurse options uncertain, could be in the mix for some playing time.

Guard Terence Davis is facing legal issues and the Raptors will make a call on whether to cut or keep him by Nov. 29. Nurse favourite Patrick McCaw has not played since March due to a knee issue.

@WolstatSun

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Dell to Devils after Maple Leafs lose goalie on waivers while Spezza clears – CBC.ca

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost goaltender Aaron Dell to the waiver wire.

The New Jersey Devils claimed Dell a day after the Maple Leafs put the goaltender on waivers, along with veteran forward Jason Spezza.

The 31-year-old Dell signed a one-year, $800,000 US contract with Toronto in October.

He played in 33 games with the San Jose Sharks in 2019-20, posting a 12-15-3 record.

The native of Airdrie, Alta., had a 48-34-12 record with a 2.76 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage and five shutouts over four seasons with the Sharks.

Spezza cleared waivers and can be assigned to Toronto’s taxi squad.

The Devils have been looking to add goaltending depth behind Mackenzie Blackwood after veteran Corey Crawford retired unexpectedly before the season. New Jersey claimed netminder Eric Comrie from Winnipeg last week.

Meanwhile, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe says rookie forward Nick Robertson will miss around four weeks with an injury sustained during his NHL debut.

The 19-year-old Robertson was hit into the boards awkwardly by Ottawa’s Drake Batherson in the first period of Toronto’s 3-2 win over the Senators on Saturday.

Keefe told reporters Monday that results of Robertson’s MRI were “better than expected” and that he considers missing around a month to be “good news.”

Robertson was selected by Toronto in the second round, 53rd overall, at the 2019 NHL draft.

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'No special treatment': Australia rebuffs tennis stars' quarantine complaints – CTV News

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MELBOURNE —
Dozens of tennis stars stuck in hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open were told Monday they would get no “special treatment” to leave their rooms to train, despite complaints from some players.

Australian health authorities rejected demands for tough isolation rules to be eased, as players resorted to hitting balls off windows, walls and upturned beds in the hope of being ready for the year’s first Grand Slam.

The Australian Open is due to make a delayed start in Melbourne on February 8, but its troubled build-up hit further problems after positive coronavirus cases were detected on three of the 17 charter flights that carried players and staff.

The 72 players on the three planes have been deemed close contacts of the four COVID-19 cases and barred from leaving their hotel rooms for 14 days, as largely virus-free Australia tries to prevent community transmission.

Health authorities said they discovered two more cases linked to the tournament on Monday, bringing the total for the Australian Open cluster to six.

Several players have taken to social media to complain about conditions.

World number one Novak Djokovic — who arrived on a virus-free flight and is being allowed to train in a bio-secure bubble — reportedly sent a list of demands to tournament organizers that included allowing players to move to private homes with tennis courts.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews smashed back that request, saying authorities would not bend strict health rules any further for the players.

“There’s no special treatment here. Because the virus doesn’t treat you specially, so neither do we,” he said.

The arrangements have sparked a backlash in Australia, with some social media users questioning why more than 1,000 players and staff were flown in for the sporting event, when tens of thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas.

The country closed its international border in March and has since limited the number of its own citizens who can return each week.

Meanwhile the majority of players are allowed out to train for five hours a day, unlike other returned travellers who are confined to their hotel rooms for the full 14 days.

Andrews said all players knew about Australia’s strict quarantine rules ahead of their flights.

“The notion that there’s been any change, the notion that people weren’t briefed, I think that argument really has no integrity whatsoever,” he said.

Some pointed out that the host city of Melbourne had endured a gruelling four-month lockdown last year after a virus outbreak.

“Our health safety is more important to us than your feelings of privilege and entitlement,” one Twitter user wrote.

“Most of us here in Melbourne do not want tennis players here potentially reintroducing the virus and causing us to go back to harsh restrictions,” another added.

French player Alize Cornet issued an apology to Australians on Twitter after earlier deleting a tweet that called the quarantine “insane”.

“Your reaction to this tactless comment made me realize what you’ve been through last year & how much you suffered,” she wrote.

“I guess I feel a bit anxious about all this & I better have shut my mouth.”

Staff are dressed in protective gear at a Melbourne hotel housing tennis players

Tennis Australia has begun delivering exercise equipment to the isolated players who are concerned about the risk of injury when they finally hit the courts for a week of lead-in tournaments to start in Melbourne from January 31.

New Zealand player Artem Sitak said he could hear tennis balls hitting the walls “everywhere” in his hotel as players embraced “creative” forms of exercise.

The doubles player told public broadcaster ABC the situation was “not ideal” but he was “staying positive and hoping for the best”.

“I’m trying to do as much as I can — all the stretching, all the exercising and anything I can possibly do — and hoping for the physios when they come out to do some magic here,” he said.

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Australian Open: Nick Kyrgios calls Novak Djokovic 'a tool' for requests to break quarantine rules – Yahoo Canada Sports

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CBC

Alberta selects Laura Walker, Brendan Bottcher for Scotties, Brier

The waiting is over in the wild rose province. Curling Alberta has made its decision on what teams will represent the province at this year’s Scotties and Brier in the Calgary bubble. Laura Walker, last year’s provincial champion, has accepted the invitation to play at this year’s Scotties. “We were excited to get the call. We wanted to wear the blue and gold and we take so much pride in representing our province,” Walker told CBC Sports. “We know there are many deserving teams in Alberta and we don’t take this honour lightly.” Walker made her Scotties debut in Moose Jaw, Sask., last year and finished with a 3-4 record. On the men’s side, Brendan Bottcher will once again be going to the Brier. Bottcher is last year’s provincial champion. He has played in the last three Brier championship games, losing twice to Brad Gushue, and two years ago to fellow Albertan Kevin Koe. It’s Bottcher’s fifth appearance at the Brier. The decision was made Sunday afternoon by the Curling Alberta board members. Massive repercussions This was a much anticipated decision as it will have massive repercussions on what other teams will attend the national championships. Curling Canada has announced a one-time expanded field for the Scotties and Brier, citing these extraordinary times in the midst of a pandemic as the reason for increasing the field to 18 teams. Normally, there are 16 teams competing at the event. However, Curling Canada has said there will be no wild-card game as it’s unfair to have teams travel all that way and make plans to only play one game. The governing body for the sport wants the best teams in the country at the event. So the first two spots will be determined by the CRTS rankings — the two teams that would normally compete in the wild-card game. The third and final team will be determined through a number of criteria. Kevin Koe, who brought in John Morris to join the team in place of Colton Flasch during the off-season, is ranked sixth. He’ll be at the event. “While we don’t agree with the decision made we are excited to have the opportunity to compete in the Calgary bubble,” Koe told CBC Sports. “Regardless of the uniform we are wearing we are a very motivated team and excited to compete for another Canadian championship and represent all our sponsors and fans.” Mike McEwen’s Manitoba rink is ranked fifth and is also a lock for the event. The last spot would then most likely go to Glenn Howard out of Ontario, as his team is currently ranked ninth. WATCH | Heroux, Jones break down Calgary culring bubble: Women’s side more complicated The women’s side is a tad more complicated. With Walker being named as Alberta representative, that means Tracy Fleury’s Manitoba rink is locked in for one of the spots with her No. 2 ranking. The next team without a Scotties spot is Chelea Carey. Her team disbanded during the off-season — Carey is a free agent. Then it’s Kelsey Rocque’s Alberta rink at No. 5. The issue for Rocque is that she changed two of four players during the off-season — and Curling Canada rules explicitly state three of four members need to return to be eligible. That eliminates the Rocque rink from the two CRTS spots — however, the team might be considered for the third spot. There is a potential situation brewing that could include last year’s world junior champion Mackenzie Zacharias. Her Manitoba rink is ranked 11th. This all comes in the wake of a number of jurisdictions cancelling their playdowns. To date, eight jurisdictions across Canada have now cancelled their playdowns — they include: B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Northern Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The final spots are expected to be filled over the next couple of weeks. Women Canada — Kerri Einarson. B.C. — Corryn Brown. Alberta — Laura Walker Saskatchewan — Sherry Anderson. Manitoba — Jennifer Jones. Ontario — Rachel Homan. Northern Ontario — Krysta Burns. Quebec — Laurie St-Georges. Nova Scotia — Jill Brothers. Nunavut — Lori Eddy. Men Canada — Brad Gushue. B.C. — Steve Laycock. Alberta — Brendan Bottcher Saskatchewan — Matt Dunstone. Manitoba — Jason Gunnlaugson. Ontario — John Epping. Northern Ontario — Brad Jacobs. Quebec — Michael Fournier. Yukon — Dustin Mikkelsen. Nunavut — Peter Mackey. There are six major curling events planned for the Calgary curling bubble starting with the Scotties on Feb. 19. That will then lead into the men’s national championship beginning of March. 5. Following these two events, the mixed doubles championship will take place all leading to the men’s world curling championship, set to begin in early April. The final two events held inside the bubble include two Grand Slam of Curling bonspiels.

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