The most notable games on the 2019-20 NBA schedule are being leaked Friday, and Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium had the scoop on a quartet of matchups that feature star players' returns to their former teams:
Charania also reported that Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis will visit the Knicks in New York on Nov. 14. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George will head back to Oklahoma City on March 3.
Additionally, Charania noted Mike Conley, now a member of the Utah Jazz, will square off against the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 15.
Kawhi Leonard left the Toronto Raptors for the Clippers in free agency, and Anthony Davis' trade request came through when the New Orleans Pelicans dealt him to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in rebuilding mode and dealt 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.
Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving stayed in the Northeast but left Boston for the Brooklyn Nets. Porzingis' time in New York soured by its end, and his trade request sent him to Dallas. George also requested a trade and was sent to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The players' histories with their teams are vastly different. Of note, Leonard is beloved in Toronto despite leaving since he led the Raps to their first title. He only played one year there, but his impact was tremendous. He should get a loud ovation.
Westbrook should also receive universal praise upon his return to Oklahoma City after a successful 11-year stint that included an MVP Award, an NBA Finals appearance and three other Western Conference Finals trips. He's one of the league's toughest players and has averaged a triple-double each of his past three seasons.
On the flip side, Kyrie Irving will probably not see much love upon his trip to Boston.
Irving excelled with 24.1 points on 48.9 percent shooting and 6.1 assists per game there, but he couldn't lead the Celtics past the second round last year in a season when Boston was an expected Eastern Conference title contender. That wasn't all his fault, as the team never seemed to jell. Still, Irving likely won't hear cheers when he comes back.
George could be in the same boat post-trade request, although he was excellent in his two seasons with the Thunder and posted a career-high 28.0 points and 2.2 steals last year.
Davis and Porzingis are the wild cards. Both players were beloved in their cities at certain points and expected to be the franchises' stars for years. That never materialized, as both players' tenures with their original clubs ended in ugly fashion. Davis requested a trade midseason and saw his playing time reduced as the Pels stumbled to the season's finish line.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Porzingis and the Knicks deteriorated before they traded him to Dallas in January. Knicks president Steve Mills said Porzingis threatened to return to Europe if his trade demands were not met.
Regardless of fans' reaction, return games are just one of many reasons why the 2019-20 NBA season is one of the league's most anticipated in years.
So are rivalry games, either between players or teams. Haynes released information for one of those already:
The Westbrook vs. Damian Lillard rivalry runs so deep that Haley O'Shaughnessy of The Ringer covered it in a Beef Tracker, showcasing the top moments between the two during their first-round playoff matchup last season.
The official schedule has not been released. That might happen soon, though, since last year's went public on Aug. 10.