Phoenix Suns release 2011-12 schedule; Marcin Gortat's situation clarified

The NBA released a tease of a 2011-12 schedule Tuesday months before anybody knows if the league will actually begin on the first day of November … or if there will even be a 2011-12 schedule to play at all.

For now the schedule provides a break from lockout thoughts as we can analyze a Suns slate that includes 13 national TV dates and a nine-game homestand in March before the squad hits the road for 12 of 15 and then finishes with a pair at home. Click the following link to view the entire tentative Phoenix Suns schedule for the upcoming season.

Perhaps the most important aspect when analyzing a schedule comes from looking at the back-to-back games. The Suns will play 15 times on consecutive nights, one time fewer than last season when they played the second-fewest such contests in the league. That’s fantastic news for the Suns considering how tough such games often are, although Phoenix gutted out an 8-8 mark in such contests last year.

The Suns’ 13 national TV broadcasts include eight on ESPN, two on TNT (and only three Thursday games overall) and three on NBA TV. That means the Suns aren’t tabbed to play on ABC at all.

Their ESPN schedule features games Nov. 18 against Chicago, Dec. 9 against Orlando, Dec. 23 at Portland, Jan. 20 at Boston, Feb. 17 at the Lakers, Feb. 22 vs. Golden State, March 2 against the Clippers and March 12 against Boston.

They will play at Golden State on Feb. 2 and host Dallas on March 8 on TNT.

The NBA TV games will come Nov. 6 against Portland, Dec. 21 against Minnesota and Jan. 28 versus Memphis.

Their nine-game homestand will include games against the Clippers, Kings, Hawks, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Celtics, Nuggets, Pistons and Rockets during a stretch ranging from March 2-18 in which almost a third of the league will visit US Airways Center. The Suns will get one day off between each and every one of those contests.

That period will resemble Phoenix’s seven-game homestand from March 4-21 during the 2009-10 season. The Suns ripped off wins during the final four games of that stretch to jumpstart a 10-game winning streak that propelled the team to a No. 3 seed. Clearly this should be an important portion of the schedule for the 2011-12 Suns as well, especially with so many road games to close the year.

The schedule also includes a streaky November in which a season-long six-game road trip to Memphis, Minnesota, Indiana, Milwaukee, Detroit and Toronto (all winnable games) is sandwiched between a season-opening three-game homestand and a five-game homestand.

At this point all Suns fans can do is hope that this will be the schedule Phoenix plays rather than a truncated version or no version at all.

Gortat still expected to sign with Russian team although deal isn’t done yet 

I exchanged e-mails with Polish journalist Lukasz Ceglinski, who has covered Suns center Marcin Gortat for some time, to get some clarification in regards to the report that Gortat has signed to play with a Russian team in the event the lockout continues into the season.

According to Ceglinski, Gortat told Polish reporters during a press conference on Friday that “it’s almost sure” he will play in Russia if the lockout continues. Polish people close to Gortat confirmed to a friend of Ceglinski’s that that is true and the club is Spartak Saint Petersburg, as Eurobasket reported.

Then on Monday Gortat’s agent Guy Zucker told HoopsHype.com: “I can assure you that the story claiming that he has reached an agreement with Spartak St. Petersburg of Russia is incorrect. While I have a lot of respect for Spartak St. Petersburg and its GM, Alex Karvanen, Gortat has not signed with or reached an agreement with Spartak St. Petersburg or any club whatsoever.”

According to Ceglinski, Zucker will be coming to Poland this Friday to close the deal with Spartak, so what he told HoopsHype is just that it’s not a done deal quite yet.

“I assume that almost everything is arranged and he will play for Spartak,” Ceglinski wrote. “That does make sense for me.”

We should know officially by the end of the week, but by the looks of it Gortat will be playing in Russia next season if the lockout cancels games.

Steve Nash after practice

Good to know Two Time hasn’t lost any of his sense of humor during the lockout….

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXFF5_GIsV0&version=3&hl=en_US]

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