The Suns were a year or two ahead of schedule last season.
With little success anticipated, the NBA and its broadcast partners conspired to give them one measly national-television date when the carefully crafted matchups were released.
As it was becoming evident that the road to ping-pong ball paradise wasn’t going through Phoenix, three more big TV dates were added.
So, on the strength of 48 victories accomplished in blatantly watchable fashion, the Suns’ schedule for the coming campaign features 10 games ticketed for national tube distribution. But the first of those doesn’t happen until January. All games that are not on national TV will be televised by FOX Sports Arizona or FOX Sports Arizona Plus. The complete local television schedule will be announced soon.
Anyway, while we await some sort of resolution on The Eric Bledsoe Project, please note the Suns open their bid for the playoffs on Oct. 29 in Phoenix against Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The San Antonio Spurs will hit town two nights later. There’s no word on whether Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich will be resting any of his front-line players two nights into the season.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be here Jan. 13. By then, LeBron already should be painfully aware of how disengaged Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are when the other team has the ball.
Our first look at Channing Frye in an Orlando Magic uniform will be Nov. 30.
The first opportunity for first-year Suns guard Isaiah Thomas to give his old team — the Sacramento Kings — the business is scheduled for here Nov. 7. You may recall Thomas recently said he really is fond of Sacramento and appreciates his time spent there, but "killing" the Kings is part of his immediate game plan.
A look at the full, 41-game home schedule reveals heavy U.S. Airways Center work on the weekends. There will be a combined 20 games in Phoenix on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; 11 of those will be Friday.
The longest home stand of the season begins Jan. 13, ends 17 nights later and includes eight games. Six of the teams visiting Phoenix during this stretch earned trips to the playoffs last season.
For extended journeys away from Phoenix, nothing equals the Nov. 15-24 trip that includes visits to Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.
If, like last season, the Suns are battling to the wire for a playoff seed, five of their seven games in April are on the road. Four of those five cities hosted playoff games last season, while the fifth (New Orleans) has a team expected to be (if healthy) much improved.
The Suns’ two April home visitors will be the Utah Jazz and the L.A. Clippers. The April 14 date with the Clips will close the regular season and comes two days after a visit to San Antonio.
Maybe Phoenix will have a playoff spot locked up by then. There certainly is an opportunity to begin the season well, with four of their first six foes having missed the postseason last year.
A really tricky stretch happens at the end of January, when the Suns close the month with games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Clippers, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors. All but the Golden State game will be in Phoenix.
To prevent all of this action from leaving you breathless, the Suns will be off from Feb. 10-20, as the NBA observes its first week-long All-Star break.