The 2023 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees have been announced, and the class is headlined by New York Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist. The class also features two of his goaltending peers, Tom Barrasso and Mike Vernon.
On Wednesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame revealed the class of 2023 inductees. Lundqvist, Barrasso, Vernon, Pierre Turgeon and Caroline Ouellette were all selected as players. Ken Hitchcock and Pierre Lacroix will also be inducted as builders.
Lundqvist played in 887 games — all for the Rangers — and was one of the best goalies of his generation. Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy in 2012 after posting a 1.97 GAA and .930 save percentage that season. He was a finalist for the award four more times throughout his career. Lundqvist was a five-time All-Star, and he ranks sixth all-time in wins (459), 13th in save percentage (.918) and 17th in shutouts (64).
Lundqvist never won a Stanley Cup, but that was no fault of his own. He had a 2.30 GAA and .921 save percentage in 130 playoff games.
Barrasso won the Vezina Trophy as a rookie with the Buffalo Sabres in 1983-84, and he was a runner-up for the award the following season. In 1991 and 1992, Barrasso backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, and he managed to play 10 more seasons after that. Barrasso finished his career with a 3.24 GAA, .892 save percentage and 38 shutouts in 777 games played.
Like Barrasso, Vernon was a two-time Stanley Cup champion. Vernon powered the Calgary Flames to their first Stanley Cup in 1989, and he won a Stanley Cup as the Detroit Red Wings’ starting goaltender in 1997. En route to his second Stanley Cup, Vernon earned a GAA of 1.76 and a save percentage of .927. Vernon was a five-time All-Star, and he was known to mix it up after the whistles, especially against the Colorado Avalanche.
Turgeon spent 19 seasons in the NHL, and he was a prolific goal-scorer in his prime. From 1988-89 to 1993-94, Turgeon scored a total of 242 goals, which ranked eighth in that time span. After that, Turgeon was a consistent 20-goal scorer, and he hit the 30-goal mark three more times. Turgeon, who played for six different franchises, finished his career with 515 goals, 812 assists and 1,327 points in 1,294 games.
Caroline Ouellette had a highly-decorated career with the Canadian women’s national team. Ouellette recorded 30 points in 20 Olympic games and 68 points in 59 World Championship Games. Between the Olympics and the World Championships, Ouellette racked up 10 gold medals throughout her career. Ouellette also played 10 years in the NWHL and CWHL, and she recorded 199 goals and 264 assists in that time.
Hitchcock is the fourth-winningest coach in NHL history with 849 victories over the course of 22 seasons. Hitchcock led the Dallas Stars to their first and only Stanley Cup in the 1998-99 season, and he took them to the Stanley Cup Final the next season before losing to the New Jersey Devils. Hitchcock coached five different NHL teams, and he went to the playoffs in 14 of his 22 years behind the bench.
Lacroix served as general manager of the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche from 1994 to 2006, and the franchise reached the playoffs in every season. Lacroix built two Stanley Cup champions in 1995-96 and 2000-01, and the Avalanche won eight division titles with him at the helm. Lacroix, who died in 2020, will be inducted posthumously.
Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP during the NHL Awards ceremony on Monday. McDavid edged out the likes of Boston Bruins star David Pastrnak and Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk to win the award.
It marks the third time (2016-17 & 2020-21) that McDavid has won the Hart Trophy in his eight-year NHL career. It’s also the third time in four seasons in which an Oilers player has earned MVP honors. Leon Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy during the 2019-20 campaign while McDavid captured the league MVP in the 2020-21 season.
McDavid racked up a career-high 153 points (64 goals & 89 assists) during the 2022-23 season. The Oilers star produced the highest point total since former Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux had 161 points in 1995-96.
The Oilers forward led the league in points, goals and assists while ranking second in power-play goals (21) only behind Draisaitl. McDavid had never produced more than 123 points in a single season, which he racked up during the 2021-22 campaign.
After just eight NHL seasons, McDavid already has the fifth-most points (850) in franchise history behind only Wayne Gretzky (1,669), Jari Kurri (1,043), Mark Messier (1,034), and Glenn Anderson (906). McDavid could likely pass Messier for the third spot on the Oilers’ all-time points list next season.
McDavid wasn’t the only player to take home some hardware on Monday evening. Here are the rest of the NHL Award winners:
Vezina Trophy: Linus Ullmark (Boston Bruins) The Boston Bruins had the best regular season in NHL history as they amassed 135 points. Goaltender Linus Ullmark was a big reason why and received some validation when he won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender.
Ullmark topped Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets and Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders to win the prestigious award.
Ullmark became the fifth goaltender in Bruins history to win the Vezina Trophy and the first since 2014 when Tuukka Rask earned the honor. Pete Peeters became the first Bruins goaltender to win the award in 1983 while Tim Thomas earned the honor in both 2009 and 2011.
Ullmark had a phenomenal regular season as he tied the Bruins’ single-season wins record (40) while also posting a league-leading 1.89 goals-against-average and .938 save percentage in 49 games (48 starts). The 29-year-old also had a pair of shutouts throughout the year as he helped lead the Bruins to an NHL record 135 points alongside fellow goaltender Jeremy Swayman.
Norris Trophy: Erik Karlsson (San Jose Sharks) Erik Karlsson became just the second player in San Jose Sharks history to win the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. Karlsson won the award over Adam Fox of the New York Rangers and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.
Karlsson joins Brent Burns (2016-17) as the only two players in Sharks history to win the Norris Trophy.
Karlsson became the first defenseman to top the 100-point mark in a season since former Rangers blue-liner Brian Leetch reached that plateau with 102 points during the 1991-92 campaign. The Sharks defenseman finished the 2022-23 season with 101 points (25 goals & 76 assists) in 82 games.
In addition, Karlsson’s 76 assists were tied for third in the league behind only Connor McDavid (89) and Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov (83). He accomplished that while playing for a Sharks team that earned the fourth-fewest points (60) in the NHL.
Calder Trophy: Matty Beniers (Seattle Kraken) Matty Beniers has become the first player in Seattle Kraken history to earn some major hardware. Beniers won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie on Monday as he earned the honor over Buffalo Sabres defenseman and former University of Michigan teammate Owen Power and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner.
Beniers finished the regular season with 57 points (24 goals & 33 assists), which was fourth on the team. The 2021 No. 2 pick led all NHL rookies in the point department as he edged out Arizona Coyotes forward Mason Matias Maccelli (49) and Anaheim Ducks forward Mason MacTavish (43) for the league lead.
Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins) For the second consecutive season, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has won the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward. Bergeron beat out New Jersey Devils forward Nico Hischier and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner for the honor.
It marks the sixth career Selke Trophy for Bergeron, who has spent all 19 seasons of his career as a member of the Bruins. Bergeron also won the award three times over four seasons, spanning from 2012 to 2015. The 37-year-old blocked 54 shots while forcing 38 turnovers in 78 games this season.
Jack Adams Award: Jim Montgomery (Boston Bruins) Sensing a pattern here? The Bruins had a historic season, which means that they won the majority of the regular-season awards at the league’s ceremony.
Considering that the team racked up an NHL record 135 points, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery took home the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top head coach. Montgomery topped the likes of Dave Hakstol of the Seattle Kraken and Lindy Ruff of the New Jersey Devils. This marked Montgomery’s third season as an NHL head coach and his first with the Bruins.
Ted Lindsay Award: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) Connor McDavid won his second award of the night as he took home the Ted Lindsay Award. McDavid beat out San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak to earn the honor.
The Ted Lindsay Award is handed out to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted on by his peers. This marks the fourth time that the Oilers star has won the Ted Lindsay Award during his professional career. McDavid shattered his previous career-high in goals (64) after never having more than 44 in a single season.
Lady Byng Trophy: Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings) Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar won the Lady Byng Trophy for displaying the best sportsmanship in the league. Kopitar edged out New Jersey Devils star Jack Hughes and Tampa Bay Lightning star Brayden Point to win the award as he earned 77 first-place votes.
The award is given to the player that was “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
It’s the second time that Kopitar has taken home the Lady Byng Trophy as he won the award following the 2015-16 season. Kopitar is coming off of a season in which he registered a team-high 74 points (28 goals & 46 assists) in his 17th NHL season. He led his team in scoring for the 15th time in his career, which is the third-most in NHL history behind only Wayne Gretzky (19 times) and Gordie Howe (17 times).
Bill Masterton Trophy: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang won the Bill Masterton Trophy as he edged Arizona Coyotes star Clayton Keller and Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock. The award is given to the player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
During the 2022-23 season, Letang suffered the second stroke of his NHL career in November 2022, but returned to the ice just 12 days later. The veteran defenseman also lost his father, Claude Fouquet, and Letang was forced to be away from the team in order to mourn the horrific loss. Letang became the first Penguins player to win the Bill Masterton Trophy since Mario Lemieux won the award in 1993 following being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma that season.
The Philadelphia Flyers are making moves ahead of Wednesday’s NHL Draft. Philly traded forward Kevin Hayes to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick, the team announced on Tuesday.
The Flyers are also retaining 50% of Hayes’ $7.142 million salary in the deal.
Hayes just completed his fourth season with the Flyers after signing a seven-year contract with the franchise in the summer of 2019. After a strong first season in Philadelphia, Hayes has battled health and off-ice tragedy (his brother and fellow NHLer Jimmy Hayes died in 2022 at 31), and his production has taken a step back as a result. Over the last three years, Hayes has tallied 40 goals and 76 assists in 184 games.
In 2022-23, Hayes did have somewhat of a bounce-back season by tying his career high in assists with 36 and posting 54 points, which is the second-highest total in his eight NHL seasons. If Hayes can play at that level more often in St. Louis, this deal will prove to be a bargain for the Blues, especially at just over $3.5 million per year.
Hayes has three years remaining on his contract, and he joins a talented forward group in St. Louis that already includes Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, and Brayden Schenn. That foursome should be able to provide plenty of offense for the Blues.
The Flyers were able to move out some salary and create more flexibility as they continue their rebuild under new general manager Danny Briere. There is a good possibility that more moves are on the way for Philadelphia this summer.
The most recent update to the 2023-24 CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1 came more than a month ago, when Kentucky secured a commitment from West Virginia transfer Tre Mitchell and moved up to No. 17 in those rankings. Since then, things have been slow in the sport of college basketball. But the Wildcats received another commitment from another frontcourt piece on Tuesday that necessitates another update to the Top 25 And 1.
His name is Zvonimir Ivisic. He’s a 7-foot-2 center from Croatia. His addition has John Calipari’s program up to No. 16 in Version 20.0 of the Top 25 And 1.
“I got the [scholarship] offer … from Coach Calipari to attend the University of Kentucky,” Ivisic posted on social media. “I’m excited to [announce] that I [have] accepted the scholarship, and [that] I will play [at UK] next season. Go Big Blue!”
Ivisic just had a string of impressive performances at the FIBA U20 European Championship last month, averaging 11.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.4 blocks while shooting 34% from 3-point range. Exactly how the soon-to-be-20-year-old will translate to the high-major level remains unclear. But the worst case scenario has Ivisic adding depth to a roster that needs it, especially considering Kentucky bigs Aaron Bradshaw and Ugonna Onyenso are both currently injured.
Kentucky is one of five SEC schools in Version 20.0 of the Top 25 And 1. The others are No. 11 Arkansas, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 15 Texas A&M and No. 25 Mississippi State. The only other league with at least five schools in the Top 25 And 1 is the Big East with No. 6 Marquette, No. 8 UConn, No. 9 Creighton, No. 24 Villanova and No. 26. St. John’s.
James Harden’s tour across China continues, and after calling Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey a liar earlier this week, the former league MVP is now flirting with the idea of playing in China at some point. It’s unclear if he meant actually signing with a team in China to play a season, or if he would be interested in the NBA hosting a game in the country like the league has done in the past. But it’s clear that he has a fondness for the fans in the country.
“Every time I come here, the love is just like … it’s crazy, you know what I mean?” Harden said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “So I feel like they deserve to actually see me come play here. … Love is always crazy here.”
Those comments come just a few days after the former league MVP publicly called Morey a liar and said he would never play for a team ran by Morey, amidst a contract and trade dispute. Harden requested a trade back in June, with the hope of landing on the Clippers. However, after on-and-off trade talks over the past couple months, it was reported last week that Philadelphia was ending those discussions with L.A. and planned to bring Harden into training camp.
Harden is reportedly prepared to sit out training camp if he isn’t traded, however, sitting out for an extended period of time could impede with him signing with a new team next summer when he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent. There’s a clause in the league’s collective bargaining agreement that says if a player in the final year of their contract “withholds services” for more than 30 days, they will be in violation of their contract and could be blocked from becoming a free agent until the team he last played for “expressly agrees otherwise.” So even if Harden did want to go play in China next year, he would need the Sixers approval if he holds out for more than 30 days and isn’t traded by the team this season.
But let’s say Harden did manage to get himself over to China, there’s no doubt he would put up ridiculous numbers as many former NBA players have in the past. He would be the biggest former NBA star to ever go play overseas, and would immediately become the face of any team he signed with. The money is nowhere near as lucrative, as the Chinese Basketball Association, the biggest league in China, allows just $5 million to be spent on foreign players. It would be a significant pay cut for Harden, who is set to make $35.6 million this season alone. But if Harden chooses to play there closer to the end of his career, perhaps that money won’t matter as much as it does right now.
The NBA finally released its schedule for the 2023-24 season on Thursday, which means we can finally take a look at some of the key games on the calendar for No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. The French phenom who was taken first overall by the San Antonio Spurs in the June draft will make his NBA debut on Oct. 25 at home against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. It’s a real “trial by fire” moment for the rookie right off the bat, and it should be an exciting matchup on both sides.
As one of the most heralded prospects in recent memory, each of Wembanyama’s games is going to draw tons of attention both at home and on the road. But there are five key matchups worth circling on the calendar that will be must-see television when it happens. Here’s five of the most intriguing games for Wembanyama and the Spurs for the upcoming season.
NBA debut: Mavericks at Spurs — Oct. 25 It’s his first game, it’s nationally televised and it’s against the last highly touted international prospect in Doncic. This is going to be an entertaining one, and all eyes are going to be on Wemby to see how he performs in his first real test. Wembanyama shouldn’t have too difficult of a time putting points on the board given Dallas’ lack of size to contend with the 7-3 behemoth. But his defense will certainly be put to the test in the paint as Doncic and Kyrie Irving will surely try to see how solid of a rim protector he is.
First matchup vs. Chet Holmgren: Spurs at Thunder — Nov. 14 We’ve got a double unicorn sighting in this matchup. Holmgren and Wembanyama could end up being a rivalry talked about years from now as both are over 7-feet and possess the grace and skill of much smaller guards. They’ve been compared to each other before, and my CBS Sports colleague Colin Ward-Henninger wrote about how Wemby overshadowed Holmgren in Summer League just due to the sheer spectacle that was Wemby-mania this offseason. But on Nov. 14 we’ll get to see these two unique players face off for the first of what could be many matchups in what could be long careers for the both of them.
Wembanyama vs. LeBron: Lakers at Spurs — Dec. 13 This is the first of two games in three nights against the Lakers in mid-December. But the first one will be the more talked about matchup as Wemby will make his debut against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers. James has had high praise for Wembanyama in the past, saying last season: “Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, “but [Wembanyama] is more like an alien.” Well LeBron will get to face off against that alien in December, and Wembanyama will have a tough test with Anthony Davis likely tasked with slowing down he No. 1 overall pick.
Wembanyama vs. Scoot Henderson: Spurs at Blazers — Dec. 28 Prior to being drafted No. 1 overall, Wembanyama had this to say about Henderson: “He’s really a great player. If I was never born, I think he would deserve the first spot.” That’s kind of like a compliment, right? Henderson figures to be an electric guard, and depending on if the Blazers ever get the Damian Lillard trade request sorted out, he’ll be the face of Portland’s team for the foreseeable future. Henderson also already made the bold claim that he will be Rookie of the Year this season, despite many already tabbing Wembanyama for that award. There’s countless storylines about this matchup, and luckily we’re getting it early on the calendar so we won’t have to wait too long to see these two face off.
No. 1 vs No. 2: Hornets at Spurs — Jan. 12 Unlike previous draft years where there was some debate about who should go No. 1 overall, Wembanyama was the clear cut choice. Instead, there was more debate about who the Hornets should take between Miller and Henderson. Charlotte opted for Miler and so we’ll get to see the top two draft picks face off in mid-January. Miller didn’t have a great Summer League showing, so hopefully by the time this game rolls around he’ll find his rhythm in Charlotte.
James Harden has stirred up some drama between himself and the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden’s former Houston Rockets head coach, Kevin McHale, is not exactly shocked that the relationship has begun to sour.
After a big contract extension with the 76ers didn’t materialize, Harden picked up his player option for a one-year, $35.6 million deal with Philly but quickly requested a trade. Harden reportedly wanted to be dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers, but that trade has not come to fruition, and the 76ers star has now called general manager Daryl Morey a “liar.”
These are not sunny times in Philadelphia. McHale, a Boston Celtics legend, coached Harden for seasons in Houston and spoke with Heavy Sports about the bitter situation.
McHale said he feels for Morey because sometimes general managers are caught between the player and ownership in these stand-offs. McHale said he suspects Morey may have wanted to work on a long-term extension for Harden, but that might not have been 100% his call.
“James wanted a big extension from Philly, and Philly wouldn’t give it to him, and that’s not a Daryl decision,” McHale said. “Daryl’s got a part of that, of course, but that’s an owner decision. So (Harden) was really mad, saying Daryl lied to him, but, you know, maybe they saw Game 7 against the Celtics and said, ‘I’m not interested in that.’
“I think Daryl would have probably tried to extend him and keep everything happy. But as far as trading him goes, you know, Daryl gets stubborn. It’s going to be interesting.”
Harden’s postseason struggles have apparently led to internal strife before. McHale said that after the 2015 NBA playoffs, when he benched Harden in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, the guard showed up to next year’s camp “fat and didn’t feel like playing.”
At this point, it seems like Harden has sufficiently burned bridges with the 76ers. During an event in China, Harden slammed Morey publicly.
“Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden said. “Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
Now, the 76ers have lost some leverage in trade talks, and Morey might not be inclined to give Harden away for pennies on the dollar. When former 76ers guard Ben Simmons wanted to be traded, Morey took his time, and Simmons even sat out games at the start of the 2021-22 season before he was finally sent to the Brooklyn Nets.
The full schedule for the 2023-24 NBA regular season was released on Thursday afternoon. Or, almost the full schedule. Due to the in-season tournament, only 80 of 82 games have been set for each team. The remaining two games will be determined by how they fare in the new event and will be announced in December. Everything else, though, is locked in. We have the schedule for opening night, Christmas Day and the in-season tournament, as well as key dates throughout the season.
Regular-season action will begin on Oct. 24 and conclude on April 14, with the All-Star break set for Feb. 16-18. As for the in-season tournament, it will run from Nov. 3-Dec. 9.
More early notes on the schedule:
Opening night is set for Oct. 24 and will feature the defending champion Denver Nuggets against the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Phoenix Suns versus the Golden State Warriors. No Eastern Conference teams will be in action. No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama will make his NBA debut on Oct. 25 when the San Antonio Spurs host the Dallas Mavericks. LeBron James and Kevin Durant will play against each other for the first time since 2018 on Oct. 26 when Phoenix visits Los Angeles (That 2018 game was a Christmas Day matchup between the Lakers and Warriors. James injured his groin in the third quarter.) On the same night, Joel Embiid and the Sixers will visit Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Miami will visit Boston in a rematch of the last two Eastern Conference finals on Oct. 27. The first matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers will take place on Nov. 1. The Heat will visit the Nuggets in a rematch of the 2023 NBA Finals on Feb. 29. Opening night The champs will get their rings before a rematch of the 2023 Western Conference finals, in which Denver swept the Lakers and left James and Anthony Davis agreeing that the Nuggets were probably the best team they had played against in their four years together. As well as being Chris Paul’s first meeting with Phoenix since it traded him to Golden State, the Suns-Warriors game will be Durant’s first at Chase Center with fans in attendance. The arena opened after Durant left Golden State, and he has been injured for all of his visits since, except for a game on Feb. 13, 2021, in which no tickets were sold because of pandemic restrictions. Christmas Day This will be the first time since 2008 that the Lakers and Celtics face off on Christmas. This will also be the Warriors’ 11th consecutive year playing on Christmas and James’ 17th consecutive year playing on Christmas. Last year, James became the first player in NBA history to appear in 17 total Christmas games. Here’s the full Christmas Day slate:
Milwaukee at New York, 12 p.m. ET Golden State at Denver, 2:30 p.m. ET Boston at Los Angeles, 5 p.m. ET Philadelphia at Miami, 8 p.m. ET Dallas at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m. ET In-season tournament The first in-season tournament will begin on Nov. 3 with the first of seven tournament nights. The group stage will continue on Nov. 10, Nov. 14, Nov. 17, Nov. 21, Nov. 24, and Nov. 28 (i.e. every Tuesday and Friday that month, with the exception of Nov. 7, which is Election Day.) The schedule includes Mavs-Nuggets, Lakers-Suns, Heat-Knicks, Bucks-Heat, Warriors-Kings and more. Six group winners and two wild cards will advance to the knockout stage — the quarterfinals will be played on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5, with the higher seed having home-court advantage, and the four winners will advance to Las Vegas, where the semifinals will be played on Dec. 7 and the championship game will be played on Dec. 9.
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.