4. Brooklyn Nets @ San Antonio Spurs - Jan. 21st, 8:30 pm ET
This game is the sixth in a seven-game home stretch for the Spurs, but that’s not why it’s relevant. In what will surely be the most emotional game of the season, Patty Mills, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets on a 2-year, $12 million dollar contract in the offseason, will make his highly anticipated return to San Antonio.
Mills spent 10 of his 12 seasons in the NBA with the Spurs, where he emerged as a fiery 3-point sharpshooter. Patty averaged nine points a game with the Spurs and helped take home the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2014. Mills’ departure meant there were no players remaining from their last championship team. Though his numbers are solid as a Spur, his homecoming will be highlighted by the leadership he showed, his community impact, and his fiery style of play on the court.
Our staff published dissenting articles on whether Mill’s number 10 should eventually hang in the AT&T rafters (you can read the argument for retiring it here and for not retiring it here). Regardless, there won’t be a dry eye in San Antonio on January 21st.
5. Chicago Bulls @ San Antonio Spurs - Jan. 28th, 8:30 pm ET
The Spurs lost three veterans from last season: DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills, and Rudy Gay. DeRozan was shipped off to the Chicago Bulls in a sign-and-trade that many executives saw as a win for San Antonio. DeRozan and the Bulls charge into AT&T Center at the end of January in DeMar’s first game back.
There’s no reason to think that DeRozan will be welcomed back with anything but gracious and thankful cheers. The Kawhi Leonard trade that brought DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio wasn’t one he necessarily relished or was looking for, but he was nothing short of professional in his three season donning the Silver and Black.
DeRozan’s arrival in 2018 marked a desire to remain a playoff contender, even if the team couldn’t wouldn’t compete for a title. His return three years later, with the Spurs fully committing to their youth movement, will be interesting to watch and a chance for everyone to reflect on the past three seasons.