10 intriguing homecoming games to watch in 2022-23 NBA season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
A chaotic NBA offseason saw plenty of old faces land in new places. Now that the NBA schedule has been released, players now know when they will be returning to their old stomping grounds.
The dates for all 1,230 regular season contests are out, and there is already anticipation building for certain homecomings. While some stars switched teams this offseason, other players who changed jerseys last season finally have the chance to face their former teammates in their house.
Not every homecoming will bring on the same reception. There will certainly be a handful of hero’s welcomes across the league. Other fan bases, meanwhile, are expected to fill their arenas with boos when the player they used to root for is back in town.
With the schedule out and only two months before opening tipoff, here are the 10 most anticipated homecoming games for the 2022-23 NBA season:
Ben Simmons: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers, Nov. 22
Simmons technically took the floor at Wells Fargo Center after he was traded from the Sixers to the Nets last February. He just didn’t play in the game – or any game in 2021-22 – and merely rebounded for teammates pregame.
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The buildup for the game was as intense as any regular season game last season. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Nets quickly silenced the Philly crowd, though, romping the Sixers 129-100.
Who knows how the Nets will look come Nov. 22? As long as Simmons checks in, though, this will be a night to remember.
James Harden: Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets, Feb. 11
On the other end of the Simmons trade, Harden will have to wait a bit longer before he visits Barclays Center as a Sixer. The Nets will host the Sixers for the first time on Feb. 11, a day after the one-year anniversary of the Harden-Simmons swap.
Harden played just 80 games in Brooklyn before landing with Daryl Morey in Philadelphia. He scored 11 points on 3-for-17 shooting in his first matchup against Durant, Irving and Co. last March, so he will be looking for some revenge in the four Sixers-Nets contests.
Rudy Gobert: Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz, Dec. 9
The biggest move – literally and figuratively – of the early 2022 NBA offseason was the Timberwolves’ acquisition of Rudy Gobert. In order to bring in the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Minnesota had to give the Jazz five players and four first-round draft picks.
The blockbuster trade left many fans scratching their heads and Gobert’s fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns in the Minnesota frontcourt remains to be seen. However, expect the Utah crowd to celebrate the French center for his nine years with the Jazz.
Donovan Mitchell: Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz, Jan. 10
Just over a month after Gobert returns to Utah, Mitchell will get to play at Vivint Arena for the first time in a new jersey.
The Jazz dealt Mitchell to the Cavaliers in a second franchise-altering deal on Sept. 1, netting three first-round picks, two first-round pick swaps and a handful of young players in return for the three-time All-Star. Mitchell will get a chance to face the new-look Jazz in Cleveland on Dec. 19, but his return to Salt Lake City promises to be a memorable night for him.
Jalen Brunson: New York Knicks at Dallas Mavericks, Dec. 27
Brunson signed one of the biggest free agent deals of all time for a player switching teams when he inked a four-year, $104 million contract with the Knicks. The point guard spent his first four NBA seasons in Dallas and raised his free agent stock with an impressive postseason.
The New Jersey native will certainly get some ovations at Madison Square Garden this season, but he can also anticipate one when he’s back at American Airlines Center.
Kristaps Porzingis: Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks, Jan. 24
Porzingis has been through this before. He already made one notorious homecoming when he went to Madison Square Garden for the first time as a Maverick. Now, he gets to visit Dallas in a different jersey.
The Latvian center has already faced the Mavs once since being dealt to the Wizards last February. He balled out against his old teammates, too, scoring 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds in a 135-103 win in Washington on April 1. The Jan. 24 matchup gives him a chance to finally face Luka Doncic and Co. in their building.
John Wall: Los Angeles Clippers at Houston Rockets, Nov. 2
Wall spent three seasons with the Rockets, but Nov. 2 will mark just his 25th game at Toyota Center since the start of 2019-20.
The new Clippers point guard missed two whole seasons during his Houston tenure. He will play in front of his old crowd fairly early into what he hopes becomes a career restart in L.A.
Malcolm Brogdon: Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers, Feb. 23
Brogdon was dealt from a rebuilding Pacers squad to the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics this summer. While the C’s will host the Pacers twice this upcoming season, the guard will only have one chance to revisit Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Brogdon should expect a warm welcome after playing 146 games across three seasons in Indiana.
Tyrese Haliburton: Indiana Pacers at Sacramento Kings, Nov. 30
Speaking of Indiana, the franchise made another pivotal transaction prior to the 2022 NBA trade deadline.
The team acquired Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson in exchange for a package headlined by a player we will get to in a moment. Haliburton was vocal about his desire to play in Sacramento after being drafted No. 12 overall in 2020, so Kings fans will certainly applaud him when the guard returns on Nov. 30.
Domantas Sabonis: Sacramento Kings at Indiana Pacers, Feb. 3
Sabonis was the marquee return for Sacramento in the Haliburton trade. The two-time All-Star got to pair with De’Aaron Fox on the Kings, and the duo is looking to lead the team out of a historic playoff drought.
Sabonis has been back in Indiana once since the deal for a Kings-Pacers last March, but he was inactive. The Feb. 3 matchup gives him the chance to face Haliburton and Co. at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.