(L-R) Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley of "NBA on TNT"
*TNT announced plans Tuesday to open its 2011-12 NBA regular-season broadcast schedule November 1 with a double-header featuring the defending champion Dallas Mavericks playing the Chicago Bulls, and the L.A. Lakers playing the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The network also pointed out that freshly-retired star Shaquille O’Neal will be joining Charles Barkley, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Ernie Johnson in the “NBA on TNT” studio in Atlanta.
Of course, all of this November 1 business depends on the current NBA lockout. According to Reuters, the NBA appears nowhere near close to ending its player lockout in time for the start of the regular season. NBA owners locked out their players July 1, and there have been no negotiations since that time.
The forces of brinksmanship should bring both sides back to the bargaining table right before team training camps are set to open in the fall. But with league owners trying to bring way down the revenue share of the players — currently at around 57 percent — there’s a lot to figure out.
When and if the NBA season does begin, Shaq will be in the studio for TNT’s pregame, halftime and postgame coverage.
• Nov. 17, 2011 – A big night of basketball is in store as the Boston Celtics travel to Orlando for game one of the night against the Magic (8 p.m. ET), followed by the New York Knicks at the Staples Center matching up against the L.A. Lakers in this early-season showdown (10:30 p.m. ET).
• Dec. 1, 2011 – The defending Eastern Conference champions Miami Heat travel to Beantown to battle their Eastern Conference rival the Boston Celtics (8 p.m. ET).
• Dec. 8, 2011 – TNT’s first game of the night will feature the L.A. Lakers against the Miami Heat (8 p.m. ET).
• Dec. 15, 2011 – The Philadelphia 76ers travel to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Knicks (7 p.m. ET) and Western Conference heavyweights the Dallas Mavericks meet the L.A. Lakers in game two of the night (9:30 p.m.)
• Jan. 16, 2012 – This MLK Day doubleheader showcases the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Boston Celtics (8 p.m. ET) and the Dallas Mavericks traveling to play the L.A. Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET).
• Feb. 2, 2012 – Old rivalries are renewed in this game between the Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks (8 p.m.).
• Feb. 23, 2012 – In the final game leading into the NBA All-Star Weekend and TNT’s exclusive coverage, the New York Knicks travel to South Beach and take on the Miami Heat (8 p.m.) and the Denver Nuggets play host to the San Antonio Spurs (10:30 pm. ET).
• Mar. 8, 2012 – The L.A. Lakers stop in Chicago to take on the Bulls (8 p.m.), while Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets round out the evening with an All-Western Conference nightcap (10:30 p.m. ET).
• Mar. 29, 2012 – The Dallas Mavericks return to Miami for a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals with the Heat (8 p.m. ET)
• April 17, 2012 – In TNT’s final doubleheader before the start of the playoffs, the Boston Celtics head to New York to play the Knicks (8 p.m. ET) and the San Antonio Spurs travel to the L.A. Lakers in TNT’s second game of the night.