Charlotte Hornets

5 highlights for the 2013-14 Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats have made big changes since last they played in April. They have a new coach in Steve Clifford and likely two new starters in free-agent center Al Jefferson and rookie power forward Cody Zeller.

Tuesday the NBA released its season schedule. Five highlights for the Bobcats’ slate.

Opening night, Oct. 30 at Houston: This will certainly be a challenge. Houston made the biggest splash in free-agency, signing center Dwight Howard away from the Los Angeles Lakers. He’ll join James Harden on a Rockets team with potential to win the Western Conference.

Home opener, Nov. 1 versus the Cleveland Cavaliers: Former Duke star Kyrie Irving comes back to North Carolina, and the Cavs could be the most improved team in the East. Cleveland used the No. 1 overall pick on forward Anthony Bennett, who played collegiately at Nevada-Las Vegas.

Defending champion Miami Heat makes two trips to Charlotte, on Saturday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Jan. 18. LeBron James and weekend dates make this the hottest ticket of the home schedule.

Stephen Curry’s annual homecoming is Monday, Dec. 9, when the Golden State Warriors show up. Curry was raised in Charlotte and is a former Davidson star, but he’s now so established with the Warriors this is likely as close as he’ll ever come to being a regular at Time Warner Cable Arena.

That other L.A. team – the Clippers – now look like the superior of two NBA franchises playing out the Staples Center. Former Wake Forest star Chris Paul re-signed with the Clippers and has a new coach in Doc Rivers. The Clippers’ only Charlotte appearance is Wednesday, Jan. 22.

-- Rick Bonnell