The NBA released its 2022-23 schedule — and revealed it has relegated the Nets.
Coming off a disappointing season and disrupted by Kevin Durant’s trade demand, the Nets are conspicuously absent from the marquee Christmas Day slate for the first time since 2020, and their nationally televised appearances have been cut in half.
No longer a headliner
The Nets were featured 26 times last season on ABC, ESPN and TNT, but this season, that number has been slashed to just 13. And because decision-makers clearly are not convinced that Durant will be leading a star-studded roster or that the Nets will be legitimate championship contenders, they’ll go from five ABC games to one.
By comparison to the Nets’ 13 national TV appearances, Stephen Curry and the defending champion Warriors will have 18. The NBA finalist Celtics — who swept the Nets in the first round — are tied with LeBron James and the Lakers with 16 national TV games.
It’s the latest proof — as if anybody needed more — that the Nets are no longer a guaranteed national draw, until further notice. They have just the lone ABC appearance, with seven games on ESPN, five more on TNT and 10 on NBA TV. Their single ABC appearance will be Saturday Jan. 28 versus the Knicks during the NBA’s new Rivalry Week.
Here are some more takeaways from the Nets’ schedule:
Back to the Bay
The Jan. 22 game at Golden State would presumably be Durant’s first game in front of Warriors fans since he left for Brooklyn in June 2019, but it currently is not slated to be on national television. If Durant isn’t traded before then and is still a Net, the game could always be picked up later.
Speaking of backs …
After trading away James Harden to get Ben Simmons, the young All-Star still hasn’t played for the Nets, thanks to a back injury that required surgery. He’s finally on pace to make his long-delayed Nets debut on Oct. 19 against New Orleans and Zion Williamson, who also missed all of last season.
It would be the first time Durant, Simmons and Kyrie Irving all take the court together.
As it stands, barring a Durant deal — and possibly even with one — the most-anticipated return might be Simmons’ first game back at Philadelphia, on Nov. 22. The game will be on TNT. There was plenty of venom and vitriol when the 76ers hosted the Nets last season, and Simmons wasn’t even playing, he was in street clothes because of his back injury.
The Nets — who traded Harden for Simmons at the trade deadline last season — will host the former MVP on Feb. 11 on NBA TV.
The Nets have a hefty 14 back-to-backs this season, but at least won’t have to deal with one of those arduous circus trips. Their two longest road swings will each span a workable five games: the first starting Jan. 17 in San Antonio and ending Jan. 25 at Philadelphia, and the second from March 7 at Houston to March 14 at Oklahoma City.