Don’t save dates on Spurs’ schedule

Normally, the release of the NBA schedule is one of the most anticipated days of a long and sweltering offseason. This year, however, it feels like one big tease. The league proceeded with the announcement of the full 2011-12 schedule Tuesday, despite an ongoing labor dispute that could eventually erase most or all of it.

Staff writer Jeff McDonald circles some red-letter dates on the Spurs’ potential schedule — in pencil, of course:

The Opener
Nov. 2: Milwaukee Bucks at ATT Center
The last time the Bucks visited the ATT Center, Manu Ginobili stunned them with a buzzer-beater. Former Spurs guard Stephen Jackson is now playing with Milwaukee.

The Champs
Nov. 4: Dallas Mavericks at ATT Center
Mark Cuban’s boys, led by Dirk Nowitzki, visit San Antonio for the first time with “defending NBA champions” attached to their title.

Dec. 17: Chicago Bulls at ATT Center
Reigning league MVP Derrick Rose and Co. come to town, repaying the Spurs’ visit to the Windy City on Nov. 30. Caution: If a lockout shortens the season, games against the Eastern Conference will be the first to go.

The Rematch
Dec. 26: Memphis Grizzlies at Memphis
The Spurs get their first crack at Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies, who knocked them out of the first round last season in a stunning No. 8-over-No. 1 upset.

The Superfriends
Jan. 17: Miami Heat at Miami
The Spurs’ lone stop in South Beach to face stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and, uh, Joel Anthony. Miami comes to San Antonio on Feb. 1. Remember, a lockout could scuttle games against the East.

The Rodeo Trip
Feb. 6: Washington Wizards at Washington, D.C.
em year’s buckin’ bronco tour spans nine games covering 18 days, starting with this trip to D.C. The itinerary also includes Philadelphia, Toronto, Detroit, Memphis, Los Angeles (Clippers), Utah and Portland before concluding Feb. 23 in Denver.

The Homecoming
Feb. 29: New Jersey Nets at ATT Center
After returning from the rodeo trip, the Spurs settle in for a seven-game homestand beginning with this visit from the Nets and coach Avery Johnson. The Spurs finish the season with 16 of 22 games at home.

The Homecoming, Part 2
March 30: Indiana Pacers at ATT Center
Popular ex-Spurs guard George Hill, dealt to the Pacers on draft night in June, makes his first return to S.A.

The Mamba
April 11: Los Angeles Lakers at ATT Center
Kobe Bryant comes to town for only one night this season. The Spurs face the Lakers in two of the final four games, returning to Los Angeles on April 17.

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