Tag Archives: trade

NHL Trade Tracker


The National Hockey League’s trade deadline is Monday, April 12 at 3 p.m.

Live listing of all transactions in the National Hockey League

This season’s NHL trade deadline is Monday, April 12 at 3 p.m. ET. (The Associated Press)

Follow all of the transactions ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.

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CBC | Sports News

NBA’s 1st all-female broadcast at helm as Raptors finally win amid trade rumours

Midway through Kyle Lowry’s marathon 23-minute post-game Zoom session with the media, he took a FaceTime call from Drake.

If Wednesday was indeed Lowry’s last appearance as a Toronto Raptor, it’ll go down as a game with a little bit of everything.

Toronto’s six-time all-star had nine assists, eight points and five rebounds, and was a career-high plus-42 on the night, and the Raptors finally snapped their ugly nine-game losing skid with an emphatic 135-111 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

“It was kinda weird tonight not knowing what the next step would be, just with understanding there are things that could possibly be done [Thursday] … but it was great to get a win,” said Lowry.

WATCH | Raptors rout Nuggets to snap skid:

Toronto ends their 9-game losing streak with a 135-111 win over Denver, sets franchise record with 24 3-pointers. 1:18

On the eve of the NBA trade deadline, the six-time all-star plus Norman Powell have been front and centre of numerous trade rumours. In Lowry, the Raptors would lose the player coach Nick Nurse said “plays harder than anybody I’ve seen. He’ll go down as the greatest Raptor ever, to date.”

Asked why he’s made hard work the trademark of his game, Lowry said: “You never know when the opportunity is gonna be your last time to play, right? You go on that floor, you never know when’s the last time you’ll play the game that you love and you’ve given your all to, right?

“I’m not the tallest, I’m not the most athletic and I’m not the fanciest but I play hard and it’s got me a long way, by playing hard,” said Lowry, wearing a white T-shirt with a red heart.

Pascal Siakam led all scorers with 27 points, while OG Anunoby had 23, Powell added 22, and Fred VanVleet chipped in with 19 for Toronto (18-26).

Jamal Murray of Kitchener, Ont., and Nikola Jokic had 20 points apiece for the Nuggets (26-18).

The Raptors built a 24-point first-half lead on sizzling shooting and better defensive hustle than they’d shown in awhile. They led 98-81 with one quarter to play.

A Lowry deep three-pointer, and three baskets from distance from Paul Watson, highlighted a 21-6 Raptors run in the fourth that had Toronto up by 29 points. Denver coach Michael Malone went deep into his bench soon after.

Lowry headed to the bench with 5:43 to play, and was greeted with hugs from teammates.

“We have been through a lot of things together and you want to keep that, you want to have that,” Siakam said. “But I think that goes beyond basketball. Again, a lot of memories.”

His plus-42 was second in franchise history to Mark Jackson’s plus-46 in 2000.

One thing missing was a Toronto crowd, since the Raptors are playing home games this season at Tampa’s Amalie Arena.

“It’d be nice but he wouldn’t know anyway, right, it’s not like they can give a final standing ovation to anybody because nobody knows what’s going on [at the trade deadline],” Nurse said. “One thing is pretty much sure, these guys have a place in Raptors fans’ hearts or whatever.

“So if they do move and they come back some time there’ll be a time to give him that round of applause, hopefully. Jeez, I hope so. I want to get back home and play a home game in a full sold-out arena in Toronto, sounds pretty good right now.”

Lowry opened his post-game media session by heaping praise on the all-female broadcast. All five broadcast positions were filled by women for the first time in NBA history.

“I heard it was unbelievable,” Lowry said. “Kayla, Kate, Amy, Meghan and Kia, I heard you did a great job. So shoutout to those beautiful ladies. It’s a huge step in our league and in our organization”

WATCH | NBA’s 1st all-women broadcast team on call for Raptors vs. Nuggets:

Play-by-play announcer Meghan McPeak and WNBA player Kia Nurse working as a colour analyst make the call as Jamal Murray of Kitchener, Ont., scores an impressive basket for Denver in a game against Toronto. 0:31

Meghan McPeak did the play-by-play, while Kia Nurse of the Canada’s national team and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, provided analysis. Kayla Grey was the sideline reporter while Kate Beirness and Raptors 905 analyst Amy Audibert were the in-studio hosts.

The Raptors began the night mired in their longest losing streak in a decade and dogged by mishaps, including a COVID-19 outbreak that sidelined Siakam, Anunoby and VanVleet for nearly three weeks.

‘Losing ain’t fun’

Siakam’s frustration boiled over after Nurse sat him for the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to Cleveland. The Raptors disputed a report Siakam was fined $ 50,000 US for his angry outburst, but Nurse said the Raptors’ front office is dealing with his discipline.

“I just felt like losing ain’t fun,” Siakam said. “You lose nine games in a row I guarantee you that, if you are a team that is serious about winning, it’s not going to be fun, there’s not going to be a lot of joking around. It’s going to be tough. … That’s what I have say. We want to win and losing ain’t fun.”

They looked intent on ending that streak from the opening whistle Wednesday, connecting on their first five three-pointers of the game. They had seven in the opening quarter to lead 38-30 heading into the second.

Anunoby led the way with 13 points in the second as the Raptors built a 24-point lead. Toronto took a 72-54 lead into the halftime break.

The night also provided Nurse a close-up look at Nuggets guard Murray, who he hopes to coach as part of the Canadian team this summer. Canada must win a last-chance qualifying tournament to earn an Olympic berth.

“[Murray] has been really positive and proactive even about saying how badly he wants to play for Canada,” Nurse said. “He’s really smart. He’s found a couple things he’s doing when teams are doing some certain things to him that he’ll shift into another gear. Again, he’s smart, he’s intelligent. I’ve been impressed with the kind of quick learning-curve growth that he’s made to keep giving himself opportunities.”

The game was the first of a three-game homestand. The Raptors, who’ve played more road games than any other team in the league, play just five games on the road in their next 18.

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CBC | Sports News

Biden’s trade pick says she’s focused on helping U.S. workers, holding back China

Two days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden met to set a new tone for Canada-U.S. relations, the Biden administration official whose decisions may affect Canada’s economy the most sat for three hours of questioning at her confirmation hearing before the Senate finance committee Thursday.

Some cabinet confirmations become partisan wrestling matches. By the end of her appearance, the confirmation of Katherine Tai as the next United States Trade Representative felt more like a collective laying on of hands.

The chair, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, called her a “superb choice.” All ranking Democrats and Republicans from not only the Senate but also the House of Representatives Ways and Means committee applauded the depth of her skills and experience with a long list of complimentary adjectives.

Representative Richard Neal from Massachusetts, appearing as a guest Democratic chair of the House committee, told senators he considers Tai to be like family after her seven years as legal counsel for his committee. Tai played a critical role in crafting and negotiating bipartisan support for endgame revisions that ensured Congressional approval of the revised North American trade agreement by delivering more environmental and labour protections.

“There is one issue that all of us in this room agree upon: enforcement, enforcement, enforcement of these trade agreements,” Neal said, praising Tai’s “understated grit.” Biden’s pick was endorsed by leaders from the environmental, business and labour communities, Neal said.

Tai accompanied Neal on a critical trip to Ottawa in November 2019 to persuade Canada to agree to amend the new NAFTA so it could get through Congress. The Trudeau government had thought its negotiations with the Trump administration were over.

Canada’s ambassador in Washington, Kirsten Hillman, came to know Tai well as Canada’s lead negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. She said she remembers having lunch with her that day and their “vibrant conversation” with the assembled politicians about how international trade can benefit domestic workers — a focus the Biden administration now embraces.

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the United States. (Power & Politics)

“I think that’s just telling on where some of the priorities may well lie,” Hillman told CBC News earlier this winter. “She has specific expertise in that area.”

Fortunately for the Trudeau government, Tai’s vision for “expanding the winner’s circle” of beneficiaries of international trade lines up with the beliefs of Canadian Liberals like Chrystia Freeland who have spoken about making deals work for small businesses and middle class workers — not just corporations.

Winning with win-wins

During Thursday’s hearing, Tai said she wants to move away from negotiations that pit one sector’s workers against another.

It’s a sharp contrast with the zero-sum style of the Trump administration, which was more focused on scoring targeted political wins than mutually-beneficial gains.

We must remember how to walk, chew gum and play chess at the same time.– USTR nominee Katherine Tai

While that could come as a relief for trading partners like Canada, Tai’s hearing also revealed several priorities to watch carefully.

For example, will Tai continue Robert Lighthizer’s push to “re-shore” as many commodities in as many supply chains as possible, to repatriate jobs for American workers?

“There’s been a lot of disruption and consternation that have accompanied some of those policies,” she said — without specifically calling out Trump administration tactics like using national security grounds to slap tariffs on foreign steel. “I’d want to accomplish similar goals in a more effective, process-driven manner.”

And what about the critical product shortages the U.S. is facing, especially during the pandemic?

President Biden signed an executive order this week to strengthen U.S. supply chains for advanced batteries, pharmaceuticals, critical minerals and semiconductors.

“A lot of the assumptions that we have based our trade programs on [have] maximized efficiency without regard for the requirement for resilience,” Tai said.

Rethinking the China strategy

Between 2011-14, Tai was the USTR’s chief counsel for trade enforcement with China. 

On Thursday, she told senators the U.S. needs a “strategic and coherent plan for holding China accountable to its promises and effectively competing with its state-directed economics.” The government must have “a united front of U.S. allies,” she added.

“China is simultaneously a rival, a partner and an outsized player whose cooperation we’ll also need to address certain global challenges,” she said. “We must remember how to walk, chew gum and play chess at the same time.”

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, himself a former USTR during the George W. Bush administration, pushed her to explain how the U.S. could compete with the “techno-nationalist” approach China takes on semiconductors — which he said are subsidized by up to 40 per cent, allowing the Communist regime to dominate the global market.

“We can’t compete by doing the things China does, so we have to figure out how we can compete by marshalling all the tools and resources that we have in the U.S. government,” Tai said.

Later she described how the Chinese state is able to conduct its economy “almost like a conductor with an orchestra,” while Americans trust the “invisible hand” of the free market. The U.S. government may need to revisit this, she said, “knowing the strategy and the ambition that we are up against.”

‘Laser-focused’ on Huawei

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who also sits on the Senate intelligence committee, urged Tai to form a “coalition of the willing” to compete with the Chinese “authoritarian capitalism” model that’s enabled the rise of tech giants like Huawei.

Trade negotiations have to protect the security of digital infrastructure, he said, and the U.S. should consider asking trading partners to prohibit certain Chinese technologies. 

“If we keep Huawei out of American domestic markets but it gets the rest of the world, we’re not going to be successful,” Warner said.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) looks on as then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivers the annual financial stability report to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Tai agreed with him, and said the U.S. government should be “laser-focused” on this, and not just in trade negotiations.

To counter China’s influence, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper asked whether it would be a “fool’s errand” to rejoin partners like Canada in the Pacific Rim trading bloc — which was renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership after the U.S. left it in 2017.

Tai said the thinking behind the CPTPP remains a “solid equation” but the world in 2021 is “very different in important ways” to the climate in 2016, when Congress failed to approve the TPP.

Carper also asked how trade policy is affected by the Biden administration’s renewed multilateral approach to climate change.

“The rest of the world is coming up with its own climate solutions, and that means that as other countries and economies begin to regulate in this area, climate and trade policies become a part of our competitive landscape,” she said.

‘Digging in’ on dairy

Tai also promised to work closely with senators who raised issues about commodities important to their states — and Canada. But the veteran trade diplomat didn’t tip her hand too much on what Canada should expect.

Idaho’s Mike Crapo was assured she’ll work on “longstanding issues” in softwood lumber. 

She told Iowa’s Chuck Grassley she’s aware of the “very clear promises” Canada made on dairy as part of concluding the NAFTA negotiations, and how important they were to win the support of some senators.

Some of these Canada-U.S. issues “date back to the beginning of time,” she said, adding she was looking forward to “digging in” on the enforcement process her predecessor began in December.

Several senators pushed for more attention to America’s beef, of which Tai said she was a “very happy consumer.” 

South Dakota Sen. John Thune expressed frustration with the World Trade Organization’s ruling against the cattle industry’s protectionist country-of-origin labelling (COOL) rules, prompting a commitment from Tai to work with livestock producers on a new labelling system that could survive a WTO challenge.

One of the toughest questioners Thursday proved to be former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who slammed the lack of transparency in past trade negotiations and told Tai her administration needs to “take a hard line.” Warren called for limiting the influence of corporations and industries on advisory committees and releasing more negotiating drafts so the public understands what’s being done on their behalf.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman Wyden asked Tai to send her ideas for improving the transparency of trade processes to the committee’s bipartisan leadership within 30 days.

Throughout the hearing, senators described Tai’s confirmation as “historic.” She’s the first woman of colour and first Asian-American (her parents emigrated from Taiwan) to serve as USTR.

Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey asked if she’d commit to working on women’s economic empowerment and participation in trade laws.

She answered with just one word: “Yes.”

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CBC | World News

After blockbuster trade, ‘hectic’ quarantine, Pierre-Luc Dubois ready for his Jets’ debut

Over the weekend, Pierre-Luc Dubois emerged from a 14-day quarantine with his bulldogs Phillip and Georgia in a house provided by the Winnipeg Jets.

For two long weeks, Dubois immersed himself in game film provided by his new employer and worked out in his living room. In the morning, he savoured the coffee left on the front step by his mom and dad, who also live in the Manitoba capital.

“In a way, it’s been a slow two weeks because I haven’t done anything,” the 22-year-old said after his first practice Sunday with the Jets. “But in another way, it’s been a pretty crazy two weeks, with all the video, watching games, getting ready, meeting guys over text and FaceTime and Zoom, and stuff like that.

“It’s been a hectic, yet slow, two weeks.”

With the transition period over, it’s time for the 6-foot-2, 205-pound centre to author the next chapter of his hockey career on a Winnipeg club loaded with offensive prowess.

WATCH | Rob Pizzo takes a look at the blockbuster Jets-Blue Jackets trade:

Two disgruntled star forwards finally get their wish, and are heading out of town. 1:56

Main objectives

The Sainte-Agathe-des Monts, Que., product need not put pressure on himself to dominate the nightly highlights package. His main objectives are to fit into a new dressing room and play the role assigned by head coach Paul Maurice. Dubois is expected to make his debut for the Jets Tuesday against the Calgary Flames.

“The Jets are one of the teams I hated playing against,” Dubois said. “They can play fast and physical. They can play offence. They can play D. They can bring everything to the table.

“I think there’s a lot of talent in the forward group and whoever you’re playing with, you’re playing with a really amazing player.”

In Sunday’s practice, Dubois skated on a line with veteran Trevor Lewis and Winnipeg’s leading goal scorer, Kyle Connor.

“Two amazing players,” Dubois said. “K.C. is one of the most underrated players in the NHL and Lewie brings that experience, just helping me with all the systems and everything. He can pass the puck, he works really hard, so it felt really great to be out there with those two.”

For Dubois, the expectations in Winnipeg are immense, given the Jets acquired him along with a third-round pick from Columbus for disgruntled left wing Patrik Laine and equally disgruntled forward Jack Roslovic.

A third overall pick in 2016, Dubois collected 159 points in his first 239 games. His relationship with Columbus head coach John Tortorella broke down in explosive fashion, and the youngster asked for a change in area code.

Fans in Winnipeg understandably mourned the departure of Laine, a second-overall pick in 2016. At age 22, Laine has the potential to win the Rocket Richard Trophy, as the league’s top goal scorer, for many years to come.

Impressive depth

But the Jets now possess arguably the most impressive depth up the middle in the entire NHL with Dubois, Mark Scheifele, Paul Stastny and Adam Lowry.

“That Patrik Laine trade is so tricky to do and the one thing that you can do [is] to make it right to get a centreman,” Maurice said, heaping praise on general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. “That’s the one way that you can have a goal-scorer leave your team — and he’s going to score an awful lot of goals — but if you can bring in a centreman, you’ve put your team in really good shape for an awfully long time.”

With Mark Scheifele on board, the Jets have plenty of depth up the middle. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Under the more-relaxed quarantine rules in the U.S., Laine has already scored three goals in three games for Columbus (Roslovic has collected one goal and six points in six appearances with the Blue Jackets).

Dubois knows he must stay true to himself and not try to be someone he is not — despite the inevitable comparisons to Laine.

“I’m a two-way forward, a two-way centre,” he said. “I can play well defensively, play well offensively, I can block shots, I can hit, I can score, I can pass. I try to be the guy that does everything out there –  supports his wingers, supports his defencemen, talks…

“Ever since I was a kid, growing up with a dad as a coach, he tried to instil in me details of the game, stuff that doesn’t necessarily show up on the stats sheet, but at the end of the game matters.”

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CBC | Sports News

Alberta premier calls Biden’s XL cancellation a ‘gut punch’ for U.S.-Canada trade relationship

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the permit for Calgary-based TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline was a “gut punch,” characterizing it as a direct attack on the trade relationship between the two countries.

“Sadly, [this is] an insult directed at the United States’s most important ally and trading partner,” Kenney said during a press conference held Wednesday.

Kenney said he was calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sit down with the new administration, suggesting that the federal government impose trade and economic sanctions should those efforts be refused.

As a part of the broader climate order, the Biden administration wrote that the Keystone XL pipeline “disserves the U.S. national interest,” citing challenges surrounding climate and the pursuit of a clean energy economy.

In the order, the administration indicated that its analysis concluded that approval of Keystone XL would “undermine U.S. climate leadership” by undercutting the influence of the country on other nations to take climate action.

“Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” the order reads.

WATCH | Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reacts to Keystone decision:

Premier Jason Kenney responds to U.S. President Joe Biden’s move to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, calling it, “an insult directed at the United States’s most important ally and trading partner.” 1:55

Prior to Kenney’s comments, both Trudeau and Canadian Ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman indicated that while disappointed with the decision, they were resigned to live with it.

The 1,897-kilometre pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. It would then have connected with the original Keystone pipeline that runs to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

Biden’s revoking of the permit was part of a series of executive orders aimed at tackling climate change that also included re-entering the Paris climate accord. 

The Alberta government agreed last year to invest about $ 1.5 billion as equity in the project, plus billions more in loan guarantees. As a result, the Canadian leg of the project has been under construction for several months with about 1,000 workers in southeast Alberta. 

Trudeau pledges support for energy workers

In a statement, Trudeau said he had spoken directly with Biden about the project in November, and Hillman along with others in the government had made Canada’s case to high-level officials in the administration.

Trudeau said his government did welcome the new administration’s moves to rejoin the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, and to temporarily suspend oil and natural gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Kenney said that if the federal government doesn’t approach Keystone XL discussions on the same level it did aluminum and steel tariffs, then the province would be forced to “go further in our fight for a fair deal in the federation.”

The comment appeared to be a reference to Alberta’s so-called fair deal panel, a series of measures being studied by the province that would help the province better assert its standing within Confederation.

In a statement, Alberta Opposition leader Rachel Notley called the cancellation of Keystone a “difficult day” for Alberta workers but criticized the provincial government’s approach to the project.

“This decision is made far worse by the premier’s reckless gamble of at least $ 1.5 billion on a project that most people understood was at great risk and over which he had no authority,” Notley said.

TC Energy says it’s considering its options

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole called the cancellation of the pipeline “devastating.”

“We need to get as many people back to work, in every part of Canada, in every sector, as quickly as possible. The loss of this important project only makes that harder,” O’Toole said in a statement.

“Justin Trudeau should have done more to stand up for our world-class energy sector and the men and women who depend on it to provide for their families.”

In a statement released Wednesday morning, TC Energy said it was disappointed in the move and warned it would lead to the layoffs of thousands of unionized workers.

“TC Energy will review the decision, assess its implications and consider its options,” the statement reads. “However, as a result of the expected revocation of the presidential permit, advancement of the project will be suspended.”

The company said the decision would “overturn an unprecedented, comprehensive regulatory process that lasted more than a decade.”

The company struck a deal with four labour unions to build the pipeline and has an agreement in place with five Indigenous tribes to take a roughly $ 785-million ownership stake.

Contractors association ‘disappointed’

The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada said in a news release it is disappointed that Biden is “putting politics before reason.” 

“We’re disappointed that the new president has lost sight of the huge economic and strategic advantages of this project,” said PCAC president Paul de Jong.

The association, whose member companies employ thousands of Alberta and B.C. construction workers, said the pipeline would have generated as many as 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada and the United States.

Canadian producers, who have struggled for years from low prices partly related to sometimes-congested pipelines, have long supported Keystone XL.

In a statement, Suncor Energy said it backed expanding market access to the U.S. through pipelines such as KXL, which, it said, would provide responsibly sourced oil to U.S. refineries for the benefit of U.S. consumers.

(CBC News)

But a Canada Energy Regulator report in November said western Canadian crude exports are expected to remain below total pipeline capacity over the next 30 years if KXL and two other projects proceed, prompting environmental groups to question the need for all three.

Biden signalled plan for months

For months, Biden had said he intended to cancel the project if elected.

Hillman said she was disappointed but that Canada would accept the decision. 

“We respect that that’s the decision he’s made,” she said. “He had made a commitment during his campaign, and he lived up to that commitment, and I think we have to accept that and move forward.”

WATCH | Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman reacts to Keystone decision:

Canada’s Ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman tells the CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault that she “respects” but is “disappointed” by U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit. 0:47

Greg Anderson, a political scientist at the University of Alberta, says Canadians tend to look at narrow trade conflicts as a sort of barometer for the larger relationship with the U.S. but added “that just isn’t the case.”

He also says the province faces bigger challenges than the loss of one pipeline. 

“I think a lot of Albertans were hoping that maybe this could just kind of slide by and the pipeline would get built,” said Anderson. 

“But the Keystone pipeline is not the Alberta economy. You know, it’s not going to save Alberta or solve Alberta’s problems. It might have helped on the margins, but Alberta has bigger fish to fry.” 

The pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change.

The Obama administration rejected it in 2015, prompting TC Energy in 2016 to launch a lawsuit and a multibillion-dollar North American Free Trade Agreement claim against the U.S. government.

The company changed course after Donald Trump revived it once he became president four years ago and gave it strong support. Construction has already started in the United States. 

TC Energy could now take similar action in order to prevent walking away from Keystone XL empty-handed after a dozen years of setbacks, billions of dollars spent and thousands of pages of filings.

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CBC | World News

Trade for Harden? How Raptors could respond if season continues in tailspin

It’s safe to say much has changed since the Larry O’Brien Trophy travelled north of the border. 

Three of Toronto’s five starters from that team, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Marc Gasol, plus one key bench piece, Serge Ibaka, all left for Los Angeles. The title defence season ended in a seven-game, second-round loss to the Boston Celtics. The Raptors haven’t played a game in Toronto since March, and now their home is Tampa Bay.

All of which is to say: the Raptors are no longer the pre-pandemic, championship Raptors. Perhaps expectations should change.

Monday night’s blowout loss to the Celtics laid it bare: another blown double-digit lead, the Raptors’ fifth of the season after losing just four times like that last season. Some flashes from Pascal Siakam, but nowhere near his all-NBA form. No signs of Aron Baynes and Alex Len coming close to replacing Gasol and Ibaka’s production. A general lack of shot-making. 

“We gotta do this ourselves and probably do a little soul-searching and look ourselves in the mirror and ask what each individual could do better to help contribute to the team and go out there and figure out ways to win,” Fred VanVleet said after the game. 

“That’s one thing we gotta do, we just gotta find ways to get the job done, there’s no secret recipe, there’s a boatload of problems and we gotta find ways to solve them.”

WATCH | Raptors drop playoff rematch against Celtics:

Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 40 points in Boston’s 126-114 win over Toronto on Monday. 0:20

The Raptors are now 1-5 on the season. They head out for four games in six days on the west coast next, which never makes for an easy trip.

More stumbles in the pacific time zone could put Toronto in a serious hole 10 games into the shortened 72-game season.

Perhaps, given everything, this just isn’t the Raptors’ season. If that is indeed the case, what should they do?

Option 1: Trade Kyle Lowry

This section was originally titled “blow it up,” but the truth is the Raptors don’t have much to sell off besides the greatest player in franchise history. 

In the last year of his contract, Lowry’s value may be somewhat limited, though the Raptors would likely enter a seller’s market due to a lack of tanking teams and the ease of the point guard’s fit on any contender.

A potential return would likely include a first-round pick and a prospect of decent value, helping augment the Raptors’ emerging nucleus of VanVleet, Siakam and OG Anunoby, all of whom are locked into the team through 2022-23.

Lowry being off the roster would also free up playing time for first-round guard Malachi Flynn. In related news, the team would get worse, though the remaining players could still be enough to make the playoffs, meaning a lottery pick is not necessarily guaranteed. 

Conversely, dealing Lowry would be a blow to the team’s culture and fanbase, and the end of an era. There is something to be said for having your franchise player retire in your colours. Then again, maybe Lowry leaves for nothing in the off-season anyway. 

The trade deadline is March 25. 

Option 2: Acquire James Harden

It’s only been six games. The Raptors are probably still good. But are they title contenders? 

In the playoffs, they wouldn’t have the best player in series against Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Boston or Philadelphia, and potentially Miami and Indiana too. That’s an issue.

Last time Masai Ujiri was in this position, he traded DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard. And that worked out.

A similar move is staring the Raptors president in the face: James Harden, who reportedly requested a trade out of Houston.

Harden lacks Leonard’s playoff bonafides and comes with similar questions about his desire to be in Toronto (maybe he’d enjoy Tampa Bay?). But the Rockets superstar is under contract through next season, and unquestionably would lift the Raptors’ ceiling.

The 32-year-old may not fit the Raptors culture; reported late to training camp after attending a rapper’s birthday party and is used to having an offence unto himself — not exactly in line with the Raptors’ teamwork ethos.

But it’s not like Leonard was a natural fit either. And like Leonard, Harden is a franchise-changing player. Any deal would likely centre around Siakam plus an abundance of first-round draft picks.

It wouldn’t be cheap, but it could be a shot worth taking.

Option 3: Trust the process

There is a pandemic, and the Toronto Raptors play their home games in Florida. That crowd was notably pro-Celtics on Tuesday.

The loss of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol hurts more than some anticipated, though Baynes isn’t as bad as he’s shown.

Siakam might not be the all-NBA player he was last year, but he’ll improve from where he was in the bubble and early in the season.

Lowry and VanVleet remain one of the toughest guard duos in the league. There is progress still to come for Anunoby. You still employ one of the best coaches in the league.

Get through the season, make the playoffs and then take advantage of the salary cap space that was prioritized over everything else this past off-season. Make every attempt bring Lowry back. Move back to Toronto for next season.

Maybe being a true contender this season was never in the cards for the Raptors. But that doesn’t mean this team should be blown up.

And hey, maybe this was just a six-game blip worth laughing about come playoff time.

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U.K. lawmakers approve post-Brexit trade deal with European Union

The U.K.’s House of Commons voted resoundingly on Wednesday to approve a trade deal with the European Union, paving the way for an orderly break with the bloc that will finally complete the U.K.’s years-long Brexit journey.

With just a day to spare, lawmakers voted 521-73 in favour of the agreement sealed between the U.K. government and the EU last week.

Brexit enthusiasts in Parliament praised the deal as a reclamation of independence from the bloc. Pro-Europeans lamented its failure to preserve seamless trade with Britain’s biggest economic partner. But the vast majority in the divided Commons agreed that it was better than the alternative of a chaotic rupture with the EU.

The deal will become British law once it passes through the unelected House of Lords later in the day and gets formal royal assent from Queen Elizabeth.

The U.K. left the EU almost a year ago, but remained within the bloc’s economic embrace during a transition period that ends at midnight Brussels time —- 11 p.m. in London — on Thursday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel signed the hard-won agreement during a brief ceremony in Brussels Wednesday morning.

“The agreement that we signed today is the result of months of intense negotiations in which the European Union has displayed an unprecedented level of unity,” Michel said. “It is a fair and balanced agreement that fully protects the fundamental interests of the European Union and creates stability and predictability for citizens and companies.”

The documents were then flown by a Royal Air Force plane to London, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson added his signature.

Boris Johnson arrives at 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday. The prime minister said the Brexit deal would turn Britain from ‘a half-hearted, sometimes obstructive member of the EU” into “a friendly neighbour — the best friend and ally the EU could have.’ (Frank Augstein/The Associated Press)

The European Parliament also must sign off on the agreement, but is not expected to do so for several weeks.

Johnson told legislators that the deal heralded “a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals.”

11-month transition period

It has been 4½ years since Britain voted 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the bloc it had joined in 1973. Brexit started on Jan. 31 of this year, but the real repercussions of that decision have yet to be felt, since the U.K.’s economic relationship with the EU remained unchanged during the 11-month transition period that ends Dec. 31.

Big changes are coming on New Year’s Day. The agreement, hammered out after more than nine months of tense negotiations and sealed on Christmas Eve, will ensure Britain and the 27-nation EU can continue to trade in goods without tariffs or quotas. That should help protect the 660 billion pounds ($ 1.15 trillion Cdn) in annual trade between the two sides, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that rely on it.

But the end to Britain’s membership in the EU’s vast single market and customs union will still bring inconvenience and new expense for both individuals and businesses — from the need for tourists to have travel insurance to the millions of new customs declarations that firms will have to fill out.

A pro-EU protestor stands in London’s Parliament Square in front of Parliament on Wednesday during the debate in the House of Commons on the post-Brexit agreement. (Frank Augstein/The Associated Press)

Brexit supporters, including Johnson, say any short-term pain will be worth it.

Johnson said the Brexit deal would turn Britain from “a half-hearted, sometimes obstructive member of the EU” into “a friendly neighbour — the best friend and ally the EU could have.”

He said Britain would now “trade and co-operate with our European neighbours on the closest terms of friendship and goodwill, whilst retaining sovereign control of our laws and our national destiny.”

‘A basis to build on’: Labour leader

Some lawmakers grumbled about being given only five hours in Parliament to scrutinize a 1,200-page deal that will mean profound changes for Britain’s economy and society. But support among legislators —- most of whom debated and voted from home because of virus restrictions — was overwhelming, if not always enthusiastic.

The party’s powerful euroskeptic wing of Johnson’s Conservative Party, which fought for years for the seemingly longshot goal of taking Britain out of the EU, gave its backing to the deal.

The strongly pro-EU Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats voted against it. But the main opposition Labour Party, which had sought a closer relationship with the bloc, said it would vote for the agreement because even a thin deal was better than a chaotic no-deal rupture.

“We have only one day before the end of the transition period, and it’s the only deal that we have,” said Labour Leader Keir Starmer. “It’s a basis to build on in the years to come.”

Former prime minister Theresa May, who resigned in 2019 after three years of Brexit acrimony in Parliament, said she would vote for Johnson’s agreement. But she said it was worse than the one she had negotiated with the bloc, which lawmakers repeatedly rejected.

She noted that the deal protected trade in goods but did not cover services, which account for 80 per cent of Britain’s economy.

“We have a deal in trade, which benefits the EU, but not a deal in services, which would have benefited the U.K.,” May said.

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British lawmakers approve post-Brexit trade deal with EU

Britain’s House of Commons has voted resoundingly to approve a trade deal with the European Union, paving the way for an orderly break with the bloc that will finally complete the U.K.’s years-long Brexit journey.

With just a day to spare, lawmakers voted 521-73 Wednesday to approve the agreement sealed between the U.K. government and the EU last week. It will become British law once it passes in the unelected House of Lords later Wednesday and gets formal royal assent from Queen Elizabeth.

More to come

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EU, U.K. unveil post-Brexit trade deal set to take effect Jan. 1

The European Union and the United Kingdom made public Saturday the vast agreement that is likely to govern future trade and co-operation between them from Jan. 1, setting the 27-nation bloc’s relations with its former member country and neighbour on a new but far more distant footing.

EU ambassadors and lawmakers on both sides of the English Channel will now pore over the “EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” which contains over 1,240 pages of text. EU envoys are expected to meet on Monday to discuss the document, drawn up over nine intense months of talks.

Businesses, so long left in the dark about what is in store for them, will also be trying to understand its implications.

Most importantly, the deal as it stands ensures that Britain can continue to trade in goods with the world’s biggest trading bloc without tariffs or quotas after the U.K. breaks fully free of the EU. It ceased to be an official member on Jan. 31 this year and is days away from the end of an exit transition period.

But other barriers will be raised, as the U.K. loses the kind of access to a huge market that only membership can guarantee. They range from access to fishing waters to energy markets, and include everyday ties so important to citizens like travel arrangements and education exchanges.

EU won’t vote on document until 2021

EU member countries are expected to endorse the agreement over the course of next week. British legislators could vote on it on Wednesday. But even if they do approve it, the text would only enter force provisionally on New Year’s Day as the European Parliament must also have its say.

WATCH | U.K. reaches post-Brexit trade deal with EU:

The U.K. has reached a provisional trade deal with the EU more than four years after the Brexit vote. The agreement is expected to provide stability as the divorce becomes final on Jan. 1. 2:08

EU lawmakers said last weekend that there simply wasn’t enough time to properly scrutinize the text before the deadline, and they will debate and vote on the document in January and February, if the approval process runs smoothly.

Despite the deal, unanswered questions linger in many areas, including security co-operation — with the U.K. set to lose access to real-time information in some EU law enforcement databases — and access to the EU market for Britain’s huge financial services sector.

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EU nations start assessing post-Brexit trade deal with U.K.

European Union ambassadors were convening on Christmas Day to start assessing the massive free trade deal the bloc struck with Britain that should kick off next next week when the acrimonious Brexit divorce process finally comes to an end.

After the deal was announced on Thursday, EU nations already showed support for the outcome, and it was expected that they would unanimously back the agreement — a prerequisite for its legal approval.

Speedily approving the deal is essential, since a transition period during which Britain continued to trade by EU rules despite its Jan. 31 departure from the bloc runs out on New Year’s Day. Without a trade deal, it would have acerbated chaos at the border where checks on goods will have to be increased since Britain is fully out of the 27-nation bloc.

The United Kingdom Parliament is expected to approve the deal in the coming days, but the agreement will have to be applied provisionally since the EU’s legislature can only give its consent next month at the earliest. There, too, approval is expected.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier leaves the EU Commission for a meeting of the permanent representatives committee in Brussels on Friday. (Johanna Geron/Reuters)

The strong show of unity is testament to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who has worked relentlessly to keep all EU nations and the groups within the EU Parliament in the loop of developments throughout the torturous negotiations.

WATCH | U.K. and EU reach post-Brexit trade deal:

More than four years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, a conditional trade agreement has been reached between the two sides. 3:01

It took more than three years of wrangling before Britain left the bloc’s political structures last January. Disentangling the two sides’ economies and reconciling Britain’s desire for independence with the EU’s aim of preserving its unity took months longer.

Both sides now claim the 2,000-page agreement protects their cherished goals. Britain said it gives the U.K. control over its money, borders, laws and fishing grounds. The EU said it protects the EU’s single market and contains safeguards to ensure that Britain does not unfairly undercut the bloc’s standards.

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