THE National Basketball Association (NBA) is planning a Christmas feast for fans.
The Christmas Day schedule will feature a showdown between the star-studded Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.
Following a shortened offseason, the 2021-22 regular season is scheduled to begin Oct. 19 with two games, also showcasing the Nets and Lakers. The champions Milwaukee Bucks host the Nets and the Lakers will be visited by Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in a TNT doubleheader.
Other games on the Dec. 25 slate include the Atlanta Hawks meeting the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in a rematch of the Hawks’ first-round, five-game playoff series win, as well as Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks meeting Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.
The full schedule for the 82-game season will be released Aug. 20.
The first four days of the season will feature eight national television games and 12 different teams.
A matchup between the Nets and Lakers is a chance for fans to decide who has the better “big three” as the game — if all are healthy — would showcase Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving against the Los Angeles trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the newly acquired Russell Westbrook.
The 2022 NBA All-Star Game will take place on Sunday, Feb. 20, in Cleveland and air on TNT. The regular season is scheduled to end April 10.
Following the April 12-15 play-in tournament, the NBA playoffs are scheduled to open April 16.
Meanwhile, All-Star center Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers agreed to a multi-year contract extension on Tuesday.
While the Sixers didn’t disclose the contract terms, multiple outlets reported it is a four-year supermax contract that will pay Embiid $196 million and keep him in a Philadelphia uniform through the 2026-27 season.
Embiid, 27, has two years remaining on the five-year, $147.7-million maximum contract extension he signed on Oct. 10, 2017.
“Joel is the definition of elite — a role model in our community and a true MVP-caliber superstar on the court,” said Josh Harris, the team’s managing partner, in a news release. “His rare blend of skills, charisma and leadership has transformed this franchise. We couldn’t be more grateful and excited to continue watching him in a 76ers uniform.”
The 7-footer was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Sixers, but he missed his first two seasons because of surgeries on his right foot. He made the All-Rookie team in 2016-17 and was the runner-up in most valuable player (MVP) voting in 2020-21. He is a four-time All-Star and a three-time All-NBA Second Team selection.
ESPN reported that his previous deal contained language that protected the team financially in case of “catastrophic injury” to his lower back or feet, but the new contract does not.
In the 2020-21 season, Embiid averaged a career-best 28.5 points per game, good for fourth in the NBA, over 51 games. He shot 51.3% from the field, including 37.7% from 3-point range, and added 10.6 rebounds per game. — Reuters