Charlotte Hornets

NBA Schedule released; Here’s five highlights for 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 vs. Cleveland: 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 , Nov. 16 and Jan. 18: LeBron James and both games being on Saturday make this the hottest ticket of the home schedule.

Stephen Curry’s annual homecoming, Dec. 9: 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, Jan. 22: 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 a Wednesday.

Rick Bonnell