Photo: Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

As the Toronto Raptors have already circled the Feb. 1 date for the official return of Kyle Lowry in Canada, high man guard Fred VanVleet has plenty of wishes amid the limited capacity within their home turf. 

It’ll be the first time Lowry will step to the Toronto homecourt not wearing any Raptors gear, as he is already representing the Miami Heat brass. On another way around, VanVleet is hoping that a sold-out Scotiabank Arena shall be a fitting scenario to welcome the beloved franchise icon. 

“We need these guys to come back to a warm welcome in a packed house,” VanVleet said, via Heat Nation’s Orel Dizon. “Whenever that may be, I think that’s the proper welcome back for any of our guys.”

Earlier this week, the Ontario health authorities announced a rule that large indoor venues, like the Raptors arena, shall accommodate only around 500 fans or lower until Feb. 21 to curb the increasing threats of COVID-19. While this one is a saddening decision out of the eagerness to cheer Lowry nonstop and there will be no other regular-season matchup again between the two teams after Feb. 1, the North faithful might have to look forward, possibly in a playoff bout with the Heat this upcoming postseason in order to express their utmost love for their former leader in bittersweet times. That’ll be the case if a jam-packed crowd is allowed and if they can maintain their firm grasp for a playoff position as the eight-seeded currently in the East (22-21), with the Heat filling the third spot (29-17) and could climb even higher due to their depth, talent, and coaching. 

Lowry was shipped to South Beach in the Raptors-Heat sign-and-trade deal last offseason, wherein Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic were delivered up North. 

The five-time All-star was the undisputed heart and soul of the franchise last decade. In 2019, he was one of the main components of the Raptors’ first title in NBA history. 

In 39 games he played in his first season as a Heat, Lowry is averaging 13.4 points, 8.3 assists, 4.5 boards while shooting 41 percent from the field per 34 minutes.