After missing the past few months with a lateral knee contusion, Moe Wagner will continue his rehabilitation with the South Bay Lakers, the team announced on Friday. The Lakers say that Wagner is medically cleared to return to playing. He had previously only been cleared for controlled scrimmages.
Wagner suffered what was originally diagnosed as a bruised knee in July, during the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league tournament. Yes, that’s right, a bone bruise has kept Wagner out for three months.
While a bone bruise might sound like a minor injury, Silver Screen and Roll’s in-house physician Dr. Rajpal Brar explained the how the effects of a knee contusion can linger:
“Knee contusion” is often used as a code word for a “bone bruise.” Whenever a player misses an extended duration with a “knee contusion” or the player is diagnosed after imaging, it’s almost certainly a bone bruise. For example, when Lonzo missed the last eight games of last season with a “lateral knee contusion,” it was almost certainly a bone bruise (he later was additionally diagnosed with a torn meniscus).
Another example is Andre Iguodala, who was diagnosed with a “lateral knee contusion” after Harden ran into his knee during the Western Conference Finals, but missed the next six games. During his absence, he and numerous others straight up referred to the injury as a bone bruise.
The reason why medical staffs don’t just come out and say “bone bruise” is because that term is a colloquialism rather than a medical term, and teams tend to be as nondescript as possible with injuries anyways.
In his limited time on the court during summer league, Wagner looked like another late-draft gem for the Lakers. In three games in Las Vegas, Wagner averaged 10 points, 8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 2.7 steals per game. That’s right, a near 7-footer average close to 3 steals per game.
It’s likely for those reasons and others that Wagner received votes for “steal of the draft” by several NBA general managers in the annual GM survey released by NBA.com.
Wagner will have the opportunity to compete for minutes at the backup center position when he’s recalled to the parent team, as the Lakers have arguably needed the most help at the five this season. Wagner told Silver Screen and Roll that he plans to get that playing time by staying locked in defensively.
“I think the key for me is to stay solid defensively and be a good communicator,” Wagner said. “Don’t do crazy stuff out there, don’t dance or all these things, just stay solid. I think everything’s going to happen all right so I’m not really worried about that to be honest with you. It’s going to happen, but right now I’m just focused on getting healthy.”
Wagner will join fellow rookie Isaac Bonga, who is also on assignment with the South Bay Lakers. With the success the Lakers have had developing players in the G League, Wagner and Bonga should be able to contribute sooner rather than later.