The San Antonio Spurs are not expected to be part of the 2018 Christmas Day schedule, which puts an end to the Kawhi Leonard returns speculation.
The San Antonio Spurs were absent from the 2017 NBA Christmas Day schedule, a somewhat unique instance for them, given their prominent place in the league. It opened the door for other teams to play, but, for 2018, there seemed to be a scenario that would allow them back in.
Christmas Day games usually feature flashy matchups, including NBA Finals rematches and head-to-heads of the league’s best players; these usually feature LeBron James’ team.
On Tuesday, the 2018 Christmas Day schedule began to go public, and the Spurs were nowhere to be found. Marc Stein of The New York Times and ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Tim MacMahon reported the following matchups for Dec. 25:
- Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks
- Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
- Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz
A vintage dose of Celtics/Sixers, Giannis and the Bucks at MSG against the Knicks and (you guessed it) LeBron's Lakers in Oakland to face the Warriors are the highlights of the NBA's Christmas Day schedule that will be announced Wednesday afternoon, league sources tell @NYTSports
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 8, 2018
Portland Trail Blazers will face the Utah Jazz on the road in one of the five Christmas Day games, league sources tell ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 8, 2018
League sources: The Thunder will visit the Rockets on Christmas.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) August 8, 2018
Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News confirmed the no Spurs news. They “offered their input” on the potential situation.
Based off what I know…. #Spurs will not be playing on X-Mas day… they’ve offered their input… but it is what it is… sources tell @ExpressNews .. #NBA schedule to be released tomorrow at 2PM ET.. so we’ll see… https://t.co/RCsWH775Pa
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) August 8, 2018
The scenario that would have fit the Spurs in? Kawhi Leonard’s return to San Antonio, after the trade that sent him and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick.
Leonard’s return to the AT&T Center would draw the necessary buzz for the NBA on arguably its biggest day of the schedule. The controversy, drama, and headlines would be plentiful, even if it was for DeRozan’s return to Toronto with what happened in July.
Leonard’s first appearance against the Spurs must wait for another day, though. The same with DeRozan. When that happens, it will become the most interesting day of the season and maybe of the past few years in San Antoni Basketball.