Ex-Cats

NBA schedule highlights: Ex-Cats debuts, Cousins vs. Kings and more

De' Aaron Fox answers questions during an interview after being selected by the Sacramento Kings as the fifth pick overall during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in New York.
De' Aaron Fox answers questions during an interview after being selected by the Sacramento Kings as the fifth pick overall during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in New York. AP

With nine weeks to go before the start of the season, the NBA announced its 2017-18 schedule Monday.

Here are some of the debuts and matchups to anticipate for former University of Kentucky players, the number of which could possibly reach 30 on league rosters at some point during the season.

Possible rookie debuts

Four former Kentucky players could make their NBA debuts on Wednesday, Oct. 18, the second day of the season.

De’Aaron Fox, the fifth overall pick by the Sacramento Kings, has a matchup at home against the Houston Rockets.

Malik Monk, the 11th pick by the Hornets, could see a familiar face on the opposing side for his first game. The Hornets will play at Detroit and the Pistons are expected to officially announce their signing of Derek Willis to a one-year contract before training camp.

The Miami Heat, with 13th overall pick Bam Adebayo, will open the season at the Orlando Magic.

Another NBA debut could come on Thursday, Oct. 19, when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the New York Knicks. Dakari Johnson, who has spent the past two seasons with OKC’s G League squad, was signed by the parent team earlier this offseason.

New Orleans Pelicats

New Orleans — with four ex-Cats on the roster including Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Darius Miller — offers the most bang for your bucks for one team when it comes to watching former UK stars.

Their early-season matchups with Sacramento (Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere) on Oct. 26; Oklahoma City (Enes Kanter, Patrick Patterson and Dakari Johnson) on Nov. 20; and Phoenix (Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, Tyler Ulis and Brandon Knight) on Nov. 24 will look like UK reunions. (However, note that Knight is out for the season with a torn ACL.)

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Denver Nuggets forward Trey Lyles, acquired in a draft-day trade with the Utah Jazz, jokes with reporters during an NBA basketball news conference in Denver, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. David Zalubowski AP

Return matchups

Pelicans at Kings (Oct. 26 on TNT): DeMarcus Cousins will play in Sacramento for the first time since the team’s shocking All-Star break trade to the Pelicans. He already has one game under his belt against the Kings, but that was in New Orleans when he had 37 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals in a 117-89 win on March 31. He was also 5-for-8 from three-point range in that game.

Nuggets at Jazz (Oct. 18): Trey Lyles turned in a promising rookie season for Utah two years ago. His sophomore year was mostly forgettable as his minutes decreased and his DNPs increased (eight late in the regular season and nine more in the playoffs). A somewhat surprising offseason trade to Denver will give Lyles an opportunity to re-boot his NBA career and he’ll face his former squad in the teams’ season opener.

Pelicans at Grizzlies (Oct. 18): This is the season opener for New Orleans, and it should mark the NBA return of Darius Miller. He has spent the past three seasons winning three championships with Brose Baskets in Germany’s top professional league. Miller previously played in the NBA with New Orleans from 2012 to 2015.

Fox vs. Ball

Lakers at Kings (Nov. 22 on ESPN): Fans pining to see Fox face off against Lonzo Ball will have to wait a bit, but it’s no surprise that the game is scheduled for national television. Fox and Sacramento will have the homecourt advantage.

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Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns goes to the basket against Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Rich Pedroncelli AP

Happy holidays

All times Eastern

HALLOWEEN

7 p.m.: Kings (Fox, Cauley-Stein, Labissiere) at Pacers

7:30 p.m.: Suns (Booker, Bledsoe, Ulis, Knight) at Nets

8 p.m. (NBA TV): Thunder (Kanter, Patterson, Johnson) at Bucks

10:30 p.m. (NBA TV): Pistons (Willis) at Lakers (Julius Randle)

CHRISTMAS DAY

5:30 p.m. (ABC-36): Wizards (John Wall, Jodie Meeks) at Celtics

8 p.m. (ABC-36): Rockets at Thunder (Kanter, Patterson, Johnson)

10:30 p.m. (TNT): Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns) at Lakers (Randle)

NEW YEAR’S EVE

3:30 p.m.: Bulls at Wizards (Wall, Meeks)

5 p.m.: Timberwolves (Towns) at Pacers

7 p.m.: Lakers (Randle) at Rockets

7 p.m.: Mavericks (Nerlens Noel/free agent) at Thunder (Kanter, Patterson, Johnson)

7 p.m.: Hornets (Monk, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) at Clippers (DeAndre Liggins)

7 p.m.: Grizzlies (Andrew Harrison) at Kings (Fox, Cauley-Stein, Labissiere)

8 p.m.: 76ers (Alex Poythress/free agent) at Suns (Booker, Bledsoe, Ulis, Knight)

NEW YEAR’S DAY

8 p.m.: Lakers (Randle) at Timberwolves (Towns)

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY (JAN. 15)

12:30 p.m. (NBA TV): Hornets (Monk, Kidd-Gilchrist) at Pistons (Willis)

1 p.m.: Raptors at 76ers (Poythress/free agent)

2 p.m.: Bucks at Wizards (Wall, Meeks)

3 p.m.: Kings (Fox, Cauley-Stein, Labissiere) at Thunder (Kanter, Patterson, Johnson)

3:30 p.m.: Heat (Adebayo) at Bulls

5:30 p.m. (TNT): Lakers (Randle) at Grizzlies (Harrison)

10:30 p.m. (TNT): Rockets at Clippers (Liggins)

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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