Champ Cavs test new Knicks, Durant-led Warriors face Duncan-less Spurs in NBA season opener
Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard renew their rivalry but this time under far different circumstances as last season. AP

KEVIN Durant will return to Oklahoma City on February 11 (February 12, Manila time) and join the Golden State Warriors for an NBA Finals rematch at Cleveland on Christmas.

Dwyane Wade will return to Miami and Derrick Rose will go back to Chicago early in the 2016-17 season, which was unveiled Thursday (Friday, Manila time) by the NBA.

The season begins October 25 in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers will raise their first championship banner against the retooled New York Knicks, which acquired Rose from the Bulls in June.

Later that night, the Warriors play their first game since Durant left the Thunder to join them when they host the San Antonio Spurs, who will be opening a new era for the franchise following Tim Duncan's retirement.

Most of the league opens October 26, including No. 1 pick Ben Simmons making his NBA debut as Philadelphia hosts Oklahoma City.

The Los Angeles Lakers will play their first game without the retired Kobe Bryant since 1996 later that night, hosting Houston as new Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni returns to his last coaching stop.

Wade, a Chicago native who had spent his entire career in Miami, plays his first game with the Bulls at home on October 27 against Boston. The No. 5 pick of the 2003 draft plays in Miami as a visitor for the first time on November 10, less than a week after Rose goes back to his old home for the first time as the Knicks visit the Bulls on November 4.

The five-game Christmas schedule is highlighted again by the finals rematch. The other December 25 matchups are Boston at New York, Chicago at San Antonio, Minnesota at Oklahoma City, and the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles.

For the first time in NBA history, no team will have more than one stretch where it has to play four games in five nights. There are only 20 instances on the entire schedule, a 71 percent drop from 2014-15 as the league continues looking for a more rest-friendly schedule.

Back-to-backs were trimmed to an average of 16.3 per team, down from 19.3 per team just two years ago.

All-Star weekend is February 17-19 in a city yet to be determined. The NBA took it out of Charlotte because of its objections to a North Carolina that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people. New Orleans is the favorite to get the game.

The season ends April 12.

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