We're slowly reaching the nadir of the NBA offseason, wherein the rumor mill stops churning, actual transactions are of the non-guaranteed and nondescript variety and the idea of LeBron James being a Cleveland Cavalier again is finally settling in.
So naturally, the NBA decided to spice things up Wednesday and give fans a glimpse at the 82-game slate that will be spread across the winter and spring months. In all, 2,460 games are scheduled, with nearly every night having at least one available on national television. (Of course, all of the games are available via NBA League Pass.)
Among the games given a date Wednesday were LeBron's return to Miami, his first game at Quicken Loans Arena since re-signing with the Cavs and a whole bunch of other contests that don't involve the four-time league MVP.
LeBron will toss the talcum powder in Cleveland on the season's third night, when Carmelo Anthony's New York Knicks will pay a visit. Anthony and James, of course, were two of the summer's biggest free-agent dominoes. While James decided a return home to Cleveland was the best fit, Anthony affirmed his commitment to his birthplace. The former Olympic teammates are also linked in their public desire to cut weight this summer.
The team that expedited James' departure from Miami, the San Antonio Spurs, leads the NBA's opening night, Oct. 28. The Spurs will lift their fifth championship banner to the rafters when the rival Dallas Mavericks make the cross-state trip. Dallas, which fought San Antonio to a brutal seven-game playoff series, made offseason waves by acquiring forward Chandler Parsons and center Tyson Chandler.
Kobe Bryant's triumphant return to Staples Center for the second time in as many years will come immediately after against the Houston Rockets as part of the doubleheader on opening night. Bryant has played in only six regular-season games since tearing his Achilles in April 2013. A December knee fracture cost him the final four months of the campaign and continued to cast doubt on whether he can still be among the league's best at age 36.
Less than 24 hours later, Derrick Rose will hit the floor at Madison Square Garden for a matchup with the Knicks. The Chicago Bulls point guard got one over on Bryant by appearing in four more games last season before tearing his meniscus. Those 10 games are the only action Rose has seen since tearing his ACL during the 2012 playoffs. With the Bulls positioned to compete for a Finals berth in the post-Big Three Eastern Conference, all eyes will again rest on Rose and whether he can reach his former heights.
The league's biggest spectacle comes Christmas Day. And the hoops-obsessed may have to ignore their families entirely or celebrate a day early. King James returns to his former stomping grounds in Miami for a battle against the Heat at 5 p.m. ET. The Wizards and Knicks start off the day in a battle of potential Eastern Conference playoff foes. Let's hope the holidays go better in the Big Apple than they did last year.
Also on the Christmas card are Spurs-Thunder, Lakers-Bulls and Clippers-Warriors. If you're a Lakers fan, this news is probably good. Those looking for competitive basketball matchups, however, may be disappointed when a midday time slot is taken by a likely lottery team. (It sells to be one of the two best franchises ever, folks.)
|2014 NBA Christmas Day Schedule|
|12 p.m.||Wizards vs. Knicks||ESPN|
|2:30 p.m.||Thunder vs. Spurs||ABC|
|5 p.m.||Cavaliers vs. Heat||ABC|
|8 p.m.||Lakers vs. Bulls||TNT|
|10:30 p.m.||Warriors vs. Clippers||TNT|
As it continues to expand its global brand, the NBA will also be hosting two regular-season games in foreign countries. The Rockets and new-look Minnesota Timberwolves will make a trip to Mexico City on Nov. 12, where all parties involved hope the festivities will go smoother than last year. The Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks then travel to London on Jan. 15, a game that will see Jabari Parker take on the player he's been most compared to (Anthony).
With games all over the calendar and the world, let's take a quick look at a full breakdown of every team's schedule.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.