Brook Lopez’s February return highlights Nets 2017-2018 schedule
Brooklyn's season starts Oct. 18 at Indiana, home opener Oct. 20
Despite watching their team go a combined 41-123 over the past two seasons, including an NBA-worst 20-62 last year, Brooklyn Nets fans are still clamoring for the 2017-18 campaign, which will kick off in earnest on Oct. 18 at Indiana and begin here in our fair borough on Oct. 20 vs. Orlando.
The Downtown Brooklyn-based franchise released its full schedule for the upcoming campaign Monday, and the Brooklyn Eagle will break down the must-see games on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, as well as some of the more interesting road matchups, including an historic two-game trip to Mexico.
Brook-lyn in the House: Nets fans will have to wait a while to see the franchise’s all-time leading scorer in the flesh again.
Traded to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer in the blockbuster deal for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov, Brook Lopez isn’t slated to hit the Barclays Center floor again until Feb. 2, when the Lakers invade Brooklyn for what should be a very emotional Friday night reunion.
But Lopez will get a chance to see the Nets on Nov. 3, when Brooklyn opens a season-high five-game West Coast trip at Staples Center against the 7-footer and his new teammates.
Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson sent Russell here along with some harsh words regarding the still-blossoming 21-year-old’s leadership skills, making the November showdown one to watch as Russell will surely be intent on sending a message to his former team’s resident icon.
“D’Angelo is an excellent player,” Johnson said back in June after completing the deal. “He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better. And also [someone] that players want to play with.”
Viva Los Nets!: The Brooklyn brand will be branching out this winter as the Nets visit Mexico City for a historic two-game set against reigning NBA MVP Russell “Triple-Double Machine” Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 7, and the Miami Heat on Dec. 9.
The Nets, who played a preseason game in Mexico back in their New Jersey days in 1999, will be the host team in both contests at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico, meaning two less home dates for season-ticket holders at Barclays Center.
“What we are trying to build here with the Nets is a diverse culture, whether it’s with our staff or our players,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson noted when officially announcing the trip earlier this month at the team’s HSS Training Center in Sunset Park.
“To be able to get out of our comfort zone, and experience a new culture, is going to help us improve as a team and as an organization. We are thrilled that we have a chance to be a part of this.”
East River Rivalry: OK, so Nets vs. Knicks hasn’t meant much the past two years as both teams have wallowed near the bottom of the standings.
But beginning Oct. 27 at Madison Square Garden, the rivals will kick off their sixth season of their version of the Subway Series.
The Knicks will also host Brooklyn on Jan. 30, but the Nets get home court in the series twice as well, welcoming New York here on Dec. 14 and for a special 3 p.m. tip-off on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 15).
Nets Go Crabbe-ing in Portland: Allen Crabbe, arguably Brooklyn’s biggest offseason pickup via trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, will return to his former haunts in the great northwest on Nov. 10.
Crabbe, coveted by general manager Sean Marks since the summer of 2016, was one of the league’s sharpest shooters from 3-point range as a Blazer, but in a reserve role.
Marks scooped him up from the Blazers in exchange for forward Andrew Nicholson on July 25, nearly one year after signing the 25-year-old forward to a lucrative offer sheet that was eventually matched by Portland.
Crabbe returns to Portland as a leading man, alongside Russell and Jeremy Lin, on the Nets’ revamped roster, and eager to play more minutes and learn how to defend better under the guidance of Atkinson.
“Like I said, my role will be expanded here,” said Crabbe, who had just seven starts in 79 games with the Blazers last year despite shooting an eye-popping 44 percent from long range.
“I’m excited. That’s all I’m looking forward to. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Carroll on the Meaning of “Team”: DeMarre Carroll figures to be one of the most popular of the new Nets, based on his grittiness on the court and his loquaciousness off it.
Not one to mince words, Carroll took a parting shot at his former teammates in Toronto after being traded for Justin Hamilton and a few draft picks last month.
He and the Nets will return to Toronto on Dec. 15, when he’ll get a chance to back up some of his statements regarding the Raptors’ inability to share the basketball.
“This year, I feel like a lot of guys didn’t trust each other,” Carroll told the Toronto Sun shortly after the deal was completed.
“And a lot of guys, they didn’t feel like other guys could produce or [be] given the opportunity. So, there was a lot of lack of trust on our team, so that’s what hindered us from going [as far as we wanted to go].”
Bring on the Champs: The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors make their lone visit to Downtown Brooklyn on Nov. 19, which is sure to be a seat-filler as Steph Curry and Finals MVP Kevin Durant take their victory tour after capturing their second title in the past three seasons.
More star power hits Brooklyn on Oct. 25 when LeBron James and the perpetual Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers come here for the first of two visits. King James and the Cavs have a return engagement at Barclays on March 25.
Red Hook Rocket Returns? Though he is still a member of the Knicks, Red Hook native Carmelo Anthony has been rumored to be headed to the Houston Rockets at some point this summer.
The Brooklynite and his prospective new team will visit Downtown on Feb. 6, making it a homecoming of sorts for one of the sport’s most prodigious scorers.
Nothing But Net: Also of interest on the Nets’ 2017-18 schedule: The team will host a season-long five-game homestand from Jan. 1 to Jan. 10, kicking off with a New Year’s Day matchup vs. Orlando. The Nets will be homebodies in January, hosting nine games here at Barclays during 2018’s opening month. The schedule will feature 15 sets of back-to-back games, 11 one-game road trips and six afternoon home contests in Brooklyn.
Season ticket memberships and partial plans are now on sale and can be purchased by calling 718-NETS-TIX or by logging onto brooklynnets.com/tickets.
Tickets can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center starting Friday, Aug. 18, at noon.