NEW YORK (AP) — The Golden State Warriors will open their title defense by hosting Houston in Chris Paul’s Rockets debut on Oct. 17, the NBA’s earliest opening night in 37 years.
Cleveland and Boston will play an Eastern Conference finals rematch earlier that night to begin the 2017-18 season, the league announced Thursday.
The Warriors and Cavaliers will play a Finals rematch on Christmas, the marquee game of the five-game holiday schedule.
The other Christmas games are:
— Philadelphia, playing on Dec. 25 for the first time since 2001, at New York
— Washington at Boston in the Celtics’ first Christmas home game ever
— Houston at Oklahoma City in a matchup of MVP Russell Westbrook and runner-up James Harden
— Minnesota at the Lakers and No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball in the nightcap
The NBA moved up the start of its 72nd regular season in hopes of creating more opportunities for players to rest without doing so during games. The Oct. 17 opener is the league’s earliest since the 1980-81 season began on Oct. 10.
National TV games during the opening week and the Christmas schedule were unveiled Thursday. The complete schedule is being finalized and will be announced next week.
The Oct. 18 schedule features the 76ers potentially debuting the last two No. 1 picks at Washington. Ben Simmons sat out all last season with a foot injury, and Philadelphia then grabbed guard Markelle Fultz in June after trading with Boston to move up to No. 1.
Jimmy Butler makes his Timberwolves debut in the nightcap of that ESPN doubleheader in San Antonio, while the Oct. 19 games feature Paul George and Oklahoma City hosting the Knicks.
OTHER NBA NEWS
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sacramento Kings forward Zach Randolph was arrested on a marijuana charge after several police cars were vandalized when a large gathering became unruly at a Los Angeles housing project, authorities said Thursday.
Randolph, 36, was taken into custody late Wednesday on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to sell, according to Los Angeles Police Department Officer Norma Eisenman.
“The charges are false and misleading,” Randolph’s agent and attorney Raymond Brothers told The Associated Press on Thursday. “We’re looking at all options to resolve this matter.”
Police on patrol observed a crowd drinking, smoking pot, blasting music and blocking streets at the Nickerson Gardens project in Watts, authorities said.
The officers observed three people, including Randolph, “reach for their waist bands” and then run away from the officers, Eisenman said in a statement.
An officer detained one of the three men — who was questioned and released — while Randolph and another man, Stanley Walton, went inside a home, police said.
A crowd began to form and the bystanders tried to block the officers, authorities said. Officers were able to enter the home and arrested Randolph and Walton inside.
After the arrests, the crowd grew and people began throwing bottles and rocks, police said.
Five police cars and one sheriff’s vehicle ended up with smashed windows and slashed tires. No officers were hurt.
Walton, 43, was arrested on suspicion of carrying a gun as an ex-convict. A police spokeswoman said she didn’t know if he has an attorney.
Police recovered two guns, impounded two vehicles and seized narcotics, police said.
Randolph, a 16-year league veteran, spent eight seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies before signing with the Kings in July. The Kings issued a statement Thursday saying the team was aware of the situation and would have no further comment at this time.
The two-time NBA All-Star played for Michigan State University before being drafted in 2001 by the Portland Trail Blazers. Randolph also played for the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers.
Associated Press Writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.