The NBA schedule was released on Thursday and we’ve tracked key dates from all angles, including games to circle for the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks and Warriors. Below we are looking at reunion dates, when a marquee player who has switched teams will be making his first trip back to his former home arena as a visiting player (Gabe Vincent or Max Strus returning to Miami is cool and all, but it’s not going to make this list, nor is Grant Williams going back to Boston or Bruce Brown returning to Denver). We’re looking at the big fish here.
Games are listed in chronological order. Let’s get to it.
*LP denotes League Pass
- Chris Paul in Phoenix: Warriors at Suns — Nov. 22 (ESPN)
Paul returns to the Valley with the Warriors after spending three seasons with the Suns and helping lead them to the 2021 Finals. Paul basically aged out in Phoenix, which brought in Bradley Beal to form a big three with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, but he was the key figure in getting that franchise on a title-contending trajectory.
- Mikal Bridges in Phoenix: Nets at Suns — Dec. 13 (LP)
Bridges wasn’t a marquee player in Phoenix, but he became one in Brooklyn and he’ll surely have an extra hop in his step for this one. Bridges was traded to Brooklyn in the Kevin Durant deal but didn’t come back to Phoenix post-trade last season.
- Jordan Poole in Golden State: Wizards at Warriors — Dec. 22 (ESPN)
Poole was a big part of the Warriors’ 2022 championship but only lasted one season after signing a four-year $140 million contract. Things ended pretty badly for Poole with Golden State, starting with the punch heard round the basketball world from Draymond Green and finishing with an abysmal postseason showing in 2023. He’ll be a go-to guy in Washington and will surely be looking to jack up plenty of shots against his old team.
- Jalen Brunson in Dallas: Knicks at Mavericks — Jan. 11 (LP)
Brunson didn’t play in New York’s only trip to Dallas last season, so this will actually mark his first time on the American Airlines court as a visiting player. This will be a tough one for Mavericks fans. Letting Brunson get away looked bad at the time. It’s borderline stomach-turning now.
- Kevin Durant in Brooklyn: Suns at Nets — Jan. 31 (ESPN)
Durant only played eight regular season games for the Suns after the trade last year and none of them were in Brooklyn. Durant’s time with the Nets was muddled. He performed at an MVP level when he played, but they never made it past the second round and he eventually tried to get his coach and GM fired before he forced his way out.
- Marcus Smart in Boston: Grizzlies at Celtics — Feb. 4 (ESPN)
Smart will receive a massive ovation when he returns to face the Celtics as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. With Derrick White arguably supplanting him as the better player, Smart became expendable. Kristaps Porzingis is in Boston as a result.
- Bradley Beal in Washington: Suns at Wizards — Feb. 4 (NBA TV)
It’s only fitting that on the same night Smart returns to Boston, Beal’s return to face the Wizards will get the stepchild NBA TV treatment, where Wizards playoff games were stuck for years in the Wall-Beal era.
- Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn: Mavericks at Nets — Feb. 6 (TNT)
Like Durant, Irving will also be making his first trip back to Brooklyn as Dallas didn’t play the Nets following last year’s trade. This is the one I’m looking forward to the most. Irving absolutely torpedoed the Nets over multiple seasons. I would assume a massive round of boos are in order.
- Fred VanVleet in Toronto: Rockets at Raptors — Feb. 9 (LP)
VanVleet was an integral part of the Raptors’ first championship as a franchise. He got a huge deal with the Rockets and rightfully left as Toronto continues to toe the line of keeping its core intact and finally entering the rebuild phase.
- Damian Lillard in Portland? Heat at Blazers — Feb. 27 (TNT)
Well, look what we have here, the Miami Heat in Portland, for the Blazers’ lone nationally televised game of the season, almost directly AFTER the trade deadline. Might the league be anticipating a Damian Lillard deadline trade to Miami? It hasn’t happened yet, but keep the date circled on your calendar. Adam Silver certainly has done so.