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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...

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In most years, it's cause for excitement when the NBA releases its schedule. We can look forward to Suns opening day, some of the key matchups and stretches of the upcoming season, and the marquee league contender games on days like Christmas. With the lockout in effect and the end nowhere in sight, today's announcement of the new schedule is more of a shrug your shoulders and say "whatever" event. But we can still have fun with it.

Since it's almost certain that at least the first couple months of the schedule won't be played, let's look at some of the key dates, likely missed matchups and our plans to otherwise occupy ourselves when we'd usually be watching Suns games and posting comments that have many exclamation points and all capital letters to game threads here on BSotS. I'll tell you my faux (probably) alternate plans so be ready with yours, and don't limit yourself to constructive activities. In fact, bad habits, various forms of gluttony and outright debauchery are encouraged in this exercise. Just keep it reasonably clean and don't violate our sexy guidelines.

Jump it for the rundown.

First things first. SB Nation's Tom Ziller's real story on the schedule release can be found here and the Suns schedule can be found here. Now, without further ado, our key make-believe matchups and my potential alternate plans.

Suns opener: Wednesday, November 2nd, hosting OKC Thunder

Wouldn't this be sweet to see our Suns open the season against the Western Conference finalist Thunder? Ah, opening night, when it's possible to be unrealistically optimistic because, hey, anything can happen, right?

Since the game likely won't be played, instead I will......

Eat mass quantities of leftover Halloween candy and watch Mork and Mindy reruns on Netfix streaming. Don't mock this. Pam Dawber was an underrated "girl next door" hottie in her day, and manic Robin Williams was a sight to behold. You gotta better plan?

First Suns matchup with hated rival: Friday, November 4th vs. Lakers

Aw yeah. Friday night against the Lakers. They'll probably be vulnerable with their new head coach Mike Brown, and still trying to find their footing after their epic collapse of last year. Oh, and no Andrew Bynum due to his suspension for cheap-shotting JJ Barea in the playoffs. How awesome would the first Friday night of the season be beating the Lakers at home?

Since the game likely won't be played, instead I will......

Go on a bender in San Francisco and hope not to wake up in a gutter, or in the bed of someone scary. There's a fair chance this would happen anyway but without the entertainment of the NBA to keep me occupied, might as well jump into debauchery with both feet.

First Suns game televised on ESPN: Friday, November 18th vs. Bulls

Remember last year, when the Suns faced the Bulls in November, built a huge lead and then blew it to lose a heartbreaker? A chance for payback! Also, a chance to show that Derrick Rose was a bit of a reach as league MVP last year, and that Steve Nash is a superior true point guard.

Since the game likely won't be played, instead I will......

Can only maintain the hard living for so long, so it's time for something a little less stressful on the body. This will be the Friday before Thanksgiving, so time to research candied yam recipes online and watch a random episode of The Sopranos for the tenth time OnDemand. Suns-Bulls? Pssh, nothing says good times like recipe surfing! And who doesn't love candied yams with their Thanksgiving dinner?

Nationally televised Suns game against the Magic: Friday, December 9th

The Suns may have fleeced the Magic in acquiring Marcin Gortat and dumping Hedo Turkoglu's contract on them (the booby prize that was Vince Carter is already essentially long gone), but the Magic pummeled the Suns on the court twice last year. Time for revenge, and time for Gortat to show Dwight Howard how much he's improved in the year since they parted ways.

Since the game likely won't be played, instead I will......

Rob a liquor store. By this time, I'll be pretty fed up by the lack of NBA basketball, and also by the incessant ringing of bells by shopping mall Santas, and by Christmas music. Bah freaking humbug all around. It's entirely possible that my frustration boils over in an extreme way. If anyone out there knows a good way to tell which liquor store owners are likely packing shotguns underneath their counters, please let me know.

Christmas Day: Three games (Knicks/Celtics, Mavs/Heat, Bulls/Lakers)

Multiple NBA games on Christmas Day is a newer tradition, but one I'm sure we all appreciate. Once gifts are opened and before dinner, what is there to do on Christmas? Talk to your family? Of course not. That's why NBA basketball provides such a nice distraction. The matchups tend to be great, and this year is no exception as we have all four of last year's conference finalists plus the two league finalists from the previous season. It could be a great day of basketball.

Since the game likely won't be played, instead I will......

Assuming I've come out of my previous episode unscathed, I'm still in need of something big to do for Christmas. Falling asleep on the couch is always a solid option, as is daydreaming while pretending to listen as some of the crazier members of my family converse with me. But we're talking about the need to replace three games that day so I really need your input for something more on this one.

You probably get the idea, so I'll stop here. Also, we can hope that the lockout doesn't extend much, if at all, into 2012 so let's just stick to 2011 likely missed games for now.

OK, it's your turn. What will you do when you'd otherwise be watching NBA this fall?

(Disclaimer: This piece is for entertainment purposes only. No liquor stores were actually planned to be robbed during its writing, nor were any candied yam recipes researched.)

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What activity will you engage in rather than watching NBA basketball during the lockout?

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Hammer Time will not necessarily be coming to Russia.

Despite previous reports that Marcin Gortat was strongly leaning towards playing in Russia, the Phoenix Suns center has not reached an agreement to play there during the NBA lockout, according to his agent Guy Zucker. Quoted in Hoopshype:

"I can assure you that the story claiming that he has reached an agreement with Spartak St. Petersburg of Russia is incorrect,” Zucker said.

The 27-year old, 6'11" Pole emerged as a solid inside presence for the Suns after his trade from Orlando in December, averaging 13.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in his 55 games in Phoenix, shooting a sparkling .563 from the field.

Though Gortat has only started 17 career games, his breakout last year, coupled with the continued struggles of Robin Lopez, make his hold on the Suns starting center position appear strong.

It's hard to say what playing overseas would do for Gortat. He just completed his fourth NBA season, but has spent a great deal of his career underutilized as Dwight Howard's backup in Orlando. He's trying to improve his post and mid-range game this summer, and honing his skills in live action might actually help him more than the added mileage on his body would hurt. However, there is always the injury risk and, due to his age and contract, Gortat is one of the most valuable (and potentially marketable) Suns players. Overall, it will probably be for the best if Gortat stays in the States during the lockout and works on his game here.


Deron Williams shocked the NBA world by signing a deal to play with a Turkish basketball team this season in the event the NBA lockout wipes out a portion of the schedule. Could several members of...

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