LeBron James is used to being a part of marquee NBA nights, but according to Sam Amick of USA Today, he and the Los Angeles Lakers won’t play on opening night (Oct. 16). That honor will go to the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer reports that the Lakers will actually start their season two days later, on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers.
LeBron James and the Lakers open their season on October 18 on the road against the Blazers, per league sources.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) August 8, 2018
The Lakers and Blazers sort of had a rivalry in the early 2000’s, but it’s one that mattered — and still matters — a lot more to in-their-feelings Blazers fans than anyone around Los Angeles for the most part, so this is an interesting choice that likely means the NBA is giving the Lakers and their overhauled roster a little bit more time to gel before putting them through their more meaningful matchups.
This marks the second marquee game to leak that will see the Lakers on the road, with it already having been revealed that the Lakers will play in Oakland on Christmas Day against the Warriors.
Frankly, it really did seem like the NBA was going to try and leverage the Lakers for eyeballs more than this. It seems strange that the best player in basketball — and maybe the best ever — joining the most storied team in the history of the league isn’t leading to the team playing at home on national TV on nearly every marquee night possible.
However, there is still a lot of the schedule left to be revealed. The NBA is planning to release details about the biggest dates on the league’s schedule (opening night, Christmas Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, etc.) later today at 11 a.m. pacific time, so it’s likely we’ll learn details about at least one more of the Lakers’ matchups shortly, with their full schedule probably releasing in a matter of days or weeks.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.