Still facing legal issues, Miles Bridges to return to Hornets roster

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Forward Miles Bridges is back with the Charlotte Hornets after more than a year away from the team following his arrest on domestic violence charges, still embroiled in a related legal case.

Bridges, 25, did not play last season after he was arrested in Los Angeles on June 29, 2022, on domestic violence charges and ultimately entered a no contest plea while receiving a sentence of three years probation. He was handed a 30-game suspension by the NBA in April with 20 games credited for time served. That left him with 10 games left to serve as the beginning of this season.

But last month, Bridges turned himself in to North Carolina authorities after an arrest warrant was issued for an alleged violation of a domestic violence protective order. He was accused of threatening the mother of his children and is due back in court in February.

Yet, with the Hornets’ first 10 games in the books, the NBA has given the green light for him to play. In advance of his return, the team issued a statement on Thursday with the Hornets saying they are ready to forge ahead.

“Miles Bridges is eligible to return to our active roster on Friday after serving his NBA suspension,” the Hornets said. “We are comfortable with Miles returning to play based on our current understanding of the facts of the recent allegations and remain in contact with the NBA as that matter proceeds through the court process.”

After practice on Thursday, Bridges said he is ready to return to the court, though he said he recognized he understands he could face negativity.

“I know a lot of people feel a (certain) way about me being back, and I understand that. Like I said before, I have to gain their trust back,” he told reporters.

The Hornets are 3-7 to start the season. Coach Steve Clifford said Thursday that he intends for Bridges to become a significant part of the offense.

“He’s going to be a big part of things, for sure,” Clifford said.

Bridges hasn’t played in an NBA game since Charlotte lost 132-103 to the Atlanta Hawks in a Eastern Conference play-in game on April 13, 2022. He was ejected from that game in the fourth quarter and tossed his mouthpiece into the stands at a heckler but instead hit a 16-year-old girl in the face.

Bridges apologized for his conduct and the NBA fined him $50,000.

Now Bridges is attempting to get back to producing on the court.

“He’s worked really hard, but you don’t know because it’s not easy to not play a game after (being out) this length of time,” Clifford said. “It may take a little bit but he has done everything he can do to give himself a good chance to play well early. He’s gotten in really good shape and he does a lot extra. He has worked very hard.”

The Hornets host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

Bridges was the Hornets’ leading scorer with 20.2 points per game during the 2021-22 season. He averaged 7.0 rebounds.