Tim BontempsESPN3 Minute Read
NEW YORK — Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford says Miles Bridges will immediately step back into a “significant role” with the team when he is eligible to play Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
That game marks the end of his 10-game suspension to begin the season for his role in a 2022 felony domestic violence case involving the mother of his two children.
“I think he’ll be ready to play,” Clifford said before the Hornets lost 129-107 to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. “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.
“I’ll be honest, we’ve been playing every other day, so that’s under: ‘Worry about tomorrow’s problems tomorrow.’ 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 will serve the final game of his suspension Tuesday when the Hornets host the Miami Heat. On Monday, he is scheduled to appear in Mecklenburg County Courthouse for a hearing on a criminal summons issued last month for violating a domestic violence protective order, misdemeanor child abuse and injury to personal property.
The alleged incident that led to the summons being issued occurred around 9 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Bridges’ private residence in Charlotte, according to a police report obtained by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. The criminal summons describes a series of events during a custody exchange between Bridges and his former girlfriend.
Bridges is accused of throwing billiard balls at her vehicle while the children were inside, smashing the windshield and leaving dents in the car, according to the summons. He is also accused of threatening her that if she “told the police he would take everything from her and withhold child support” and that he “allowed his current girlfriend to yell, scream and kick the victim’s car while the children were inside it.” The summons does not say if the woman was in the car.
Both the Hornets and the NBA said last month that they were gathering information about the incident and declined to comment further. Clifford deferred to that statement when asked how the team would handle integrating Bridges back into its lineup later this week.
“We’ve already made statements about that,” Clifford said. “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.”
The NBA suspended Bridges for 30 games in April. Twenty were credited as time served after he didn’t play in the league last season in the wake of pleading no contest on Nov. 3, 2022, to a felony domestic violence charge of injuring a child’s parent.
As part of the plea deal, Bridges was sentenced to three years of probation but avoided jail time.
The 25-year-old accepted Charlotte’s one-year qualifying offer of $7.9 million in July as a restricted free agent, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
“It’s big,” Hornets star LaMelo Ball said of Bridges’ impending return. “It’s a blessing for sure. Hopefully, we get Miles back and then make some noise.”