Miles Bridges will return to the Charlotte Hornets on a one-year contract next season after he finishes a suspension for pleading no contest to felony domestic violence.
Bridges, 25, had been a restricted free agent for the Hornets since June 2022, when he had been expected to negotiate for a $173 million maximum deal over five years. But on June 29, 2022, he was arrested in Los Angeles, accused of beating the mother of his two children in front of the children. In November, he pleaded no contest to one count of felony domestic violence as part of a plea deal that included three years of probation but no jail time.
“I sincerely apologize for the pain, embarrassment and disappointment that last year’s incident caused so many people,” Bridges said in a statement through the team on Friday, adding that he was “grateful” to have a second chance to play. He had been with the Hornets since they acquired him in a draft-day deal in 2018. His new one-year contract is for $7.9 million, according to ESPN.
Bridges will have to sit out for the first 10 games next season. The N.B.A. suspended him for 30 games in April, but gave him credit for 20 because he did not play last season. N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver later told a group of sports editors that Bridges and the league had a “mutual agreement” that he would not play during the 2022-23 season, though he said the agreement did not constitute a suspension. However, in February Bridges had told The Associated Press that he might return in March.
As part of his plea deal, Bridges was required to undergo a year of domestic violence counseling, complete 100 hours of community service and go to parenting classes. The victim was also granted a 10-year restraining order. Bridges initially faced several felony charges of domestic violence and child abuse.
In the team’s statement on Friday, Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Bridges’s “commitment to counseling and community service” had factored into Charlotte’s decision to bring him back.
“Throughout this process, we have taken a measured and serious approach,” Kupchak said. He added of Bridges, “He has shown remorse, indicated that he has learned from this situation and expressed that it will not happen again.”
Bridges said that he had been in therapy and that he understood why people had questioned whether he deserved a second chance. He vowed to earn back everyone’s trust and confidence.
Without Bridges last season, the Hornets were the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte’s best player, guard LaMelo Ball, also missed most of the season with injuries. The poor showing positioned the Hornets for a high draft pick, which they used on Alabama’s Brandon Miller at No. 2 overall.
Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls great who had owned the Hornets since 2010, announced last month that he would sell his majority stake in the team but stay on as a minority investor.