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The NBA champion Raptors relaunch with a crossroads to bear

The scar under Fred VanVleet’s eye is still pink, and a little jagged. He had already scored 12 fourth-quarter points when he found himself bleeding on the floor on the night the Toronto Raptors won Game 6 in Oakland, and the NBA championship. Four months later it’s a new season, but there are reminders. VanVleet carries one on his face.

“At least for now,” he says. “We’ll see. It’ll maybe go away in a few years.”

A potentially temporary scar is very NBA these days. Kawhi Leonard carried the Raptors to the title and left in a league-shaking power play, in a summer that reordered the NBA.