Content warning: The following article contains graphic descriptions of alleged domestic violence.
Miles Bridges’ return to the court is imminent, and Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is expecting him to take on a “significant” role right away.
Bridges will return from a 10-game suspension after a domestic violence incident last year on Friday when the Hornets host the Milwaukee Bucks. While there’s more legal trouble that Bridges is involved with, Friday’s game will be his first since the 2021-22 season.
“I think he’ll be ready to play,” Clifford said Sunday, via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “He’s able to practice every day. We’re well organized when he’s there. He’s in really good shape. He’s worked hard … Right now, our problems are we don’t run back on defense and we don’t block out all the time, so I’ve been spending more of my time on that. But he’ll have a significant role right away.”
Bridges averaged 20.2 points and seven rebounds, both career-highs, during the 2021-22 campaign. The former Michigan State star signed a one-year, $7.9 million deal to return to the Hornets this past offseason.
The Hornets, who fell to the New York Knicks on Sunday, are just 3-6 so far this season.
Bridges due in court again on Monday
Bridges was arrested in Los Angeles during the offseason after the 2021-22 campaign after he allegedly attacked his wife in front of their children. His wife posted images on social media, which she later deleted, but said they included a fractured nose and wrist, a torn eardrum and torn muscles in her neck, among other things.
Bridges eventually pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge in a plea deal with prosecutors. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, three years probation and ordered to take domestic violence counseling and parenting classes. He did not serve time in jail, and agreed to terms of a 10-year protective order.
The NBA suspended Bridges for 30 games as a result of that incident, 20 games of which counted as he missed all of last season. He will serve the final game of that suspension on Tuesday night when the Hornets host the Miami Heat.
Bridges apologized for the incident in June when addressing reporters alongside general manager Mitch Kupchak — who said he believed “Miles when he said that” this “would never happen again.”
Last month, however, a criminal summons was issued for Bridges in North Carolina after he allegedly violated the domestic violence protective order he agreed to in an incident earlier this month. Bridges allegedly threatened the mother of his children during a custody exchange and threw pool table balls at her vehicle. He also allegedly told the victim that if she told police, he would take “everything from her and withhold child support.” He also "allowed his current girlfriend to yell, scream and kick the victim's car while the children were inside it," according to the summons.
Bridges turned himself in, and was released on bond. He is due in court next on Monday for a hearing. It’s unclear if Kupchak or the Hornets knew of the arrest warrant and the second incident when they reached the deal to bring Bridges back to Charlotte.
Clifford declined to get into that on Sunday, instead citing an earlier statement that the team made.
"We've already made statements about that," Clifford said, via ESPN. "The big thing for me, obviously, is two years ago he was the high scorer, high rebounder. Since he's been here he's had a great attitude. He's been a terrific worker. He is a great teammate, and he's a really, really good player. He's got himself in good shape, and he'll play a big role right away.
"If you are around him every day, he's a team-first guy. [His teammates] love him. They love having him back around and love the way he practices, the way he works, the way he interacts with everybody."