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Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:
NBA free agency opens today
Under league rules, players and teams can start talking and agreeing to deals at 6 p.m. ET. But everyone knows that under-the-table talks have been going on for weeks, if not months. So expect a flurry of news once the negotiation window (wink, wink) opens. Contracts can be officially signed starting Sunday at noon ET.
According to Spotrac’s figures, the teams with the most practical cap space for next season are the Lakers ($60 million US), Atlanta ($43M) and New York ($40M). Toronto ranks eighth with $17M in projected room.
Here are the biggest names set to become unrestricted free agents, starting with a trio of Raptors:
Fred VanVleet: Toronto signed him as an undrafted free agent four years ago and developed him into a star. VanVleet averaged a career-high 17.6 points last season and was a steal at a cap hit of only $9.3 million. He could double that on the open market, and he’s made it known that he’ll go where the money is.
Serge Ibaka: Another key part of the Raptors’ 2019 championship run, the versatile big man recently turned 31 but is still playing at a high level. He averaged a career-high 15.4 points with 8.2 rebounds last season while earning $23.3 million.
Marc Gasol: The 35-year-old centre showed his age last season, averaging a career-low 7.5 points while making $25.6 million. He’ll need to take a big pay cut, but Gasol can still help a contender with his smart defensive work and shooting range.
Anthony Davis: LeBron’s sidekick opted out of the final year of his deal with the Lakers, but he’s not expected to go anywhere. He’s likely just angling to re-sign for more than the $28.8 million he was scheduled to make under his old deal.
Gordon Hayward: He hasn’t been the same since suffering a gruesome leg injury in the 2017-18 season opener, but Hayward is confident enough in landing a long-term contract that he turned down his $34.2-million option with Boston. Unlike Davis, it feels like he’ll be on the move.
Goran Dragic: He’s 34, but the fearless point guard looked plenty spry in the playoffs. He scored 19.1 points per game to help fuel Miami’s surprising run to the Finals.
Montrezl Harrell: The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year should get a big raise from his $6-million salary after hustling his way to career highs in points (18.6) and rebounds (7.1) for the Clippers.
The CFL released its 2021 schedule
Given the current situation on planet Earth, we should probably take all of this with a grain of salt. But today — two days before what would have been the 108th Grey Cup game — the CFL put out a full slate of games for next year.
The pre-season opens May 23 and the regular season kicks off June 10 with a 2019 title-game rematch between Hamilton and defending champion Winnipeg. The playoffs start Nov. 7 and the Grey Cup game is Nov. 21 in Hamilton. Each team has 18 regular-season games, as usual. But, to cut down on travel, there are fewer interdivisional matchups.
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in the press release announcing the schedule that the CFL is “looking forward to hosting our comeback season in our stadiums, in front of our fans” and that “we are encouraged by the reports about vaccines, treatments and rapid testing in the news.”
The league’s plans largely hinge on those developments — and on getting governments to allow hundreds of American players into the country to play games with fans in attendance. That last part, especially, would be a non-starter at the moment. But the beginning of training camps is still more than five months away. So, like everything else in the world, we’ll see. Read more about the CFL schedule in this story by CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux and see the full sked here.
The Raptors will play in Tampa to start the upcoming season. President Masai Ujiri made that announcement today after the Canadian government reportedly rejected the team’s proposal to play out of its home arena in Toronto. So, like the Blue Jays before them, the Raptors will set up shop in a U.S. city — though one with a considerably better winter climate. NBA training camps open Dec. 1 and the season starts Dec. 22. The league hasn’t released a schedule yet. Read more about the Raptors’ temporary move here.
The Major League Soccer playoffs kick off tonight. Two Canadian teams made it. Montreal faces New England tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET in one of the two Eastern Conference play-in matches. If Montreal wins and Miami beats Nashville, Montreal will face No. 2 seed Toronto in round one on Tuesday. Montreal’s other potential opponent is top-seeded Philadelphia.
Mikaela Shiffrin is back. The world’s most dominant ski racer will compete for the first time in 300 days when she lines up for a World Cup slalom in Finland on Saturday. The two-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time World Cup overall champion last raced on Jan. 26, when she won a super-G for her 66th World Cup victory. That’s just 16 short of Lindsey Vonn’s all-time women’s record, and Shiffrin is only 25 and still in her prime. But she’s had a rough year. A week after her last race, her father died suddenly, and she took five weeks off as she struggled with her grief. She was going to return in mid-March and try to regain her lead in the standings, but the rest of the season was cancelled because of the pandemic, robbing her of a shot at her fourth consecutive overall title. Shiffrin says she’s ready to compete again but still feels “lonely” without her dad. Read more about how she’s trying to move on with her life and career here.
This weekend on CBC Sports
International Swimming League final: The ISL’s 10 teams have been whittled down to four for the championship match in Budapest. Defending champion Energy Standard (based in France) takes on the London Roar and two California-based squads, the Cali Condors and the L.A. Current. Canada’s only team, the Toronto Titans, was eliminated in the semifinals. That means you won’t get to see Canadian standouts Kylie Masse and Kelsey Wog, who both had strong seasons for Toronto. But the top six swimmers in the season-long MVP points race are all competing, including leader Caeleb Dressel of the Condors. Brush up on the other athletes to watch in this video with CBC Sports’ Scott Russell. Watch the two-day final live Saturday from 8-10 a.m. ET and Sunday noon-2 p.m. ET here.
Grand Prix of Figure Skating — Rostelecom Cup: Due to travel restrictions, no Canadians are competing at the Moscow stop. But it does feature the reigning European champions in each of the four disciplines, who are all Russian. Watch all the free skates live Saturday, starting with the men’s at 5:45 a.m. ET, here.
Bobsleigh World Cup season openers: Canada isn’t sending any athletes until at least the start of the new year, but the condensed season (all in Europe) begins Saturday with the women’s race at 2 a.m. ET and a two-man at 6:45 a.m. ET. Another two-man goes Sunday at 7:45 a.m. ET. Watch them all live here.
Road to the Olympic Games: Saturday’s and Sunday’s shows on the CBC TV network feature the ISL, bobsleigh and skeleton. Check local listings for times.
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