Lakers rookie Moe Wagner will sit out the entire preseason as he continues to recover from a knee injury he suffered in July during the Las Vegas Summer League.
Wagner injured his left knee July 10 when the Lakers played the New York Knicks at the Thomas & Mack Center. He walked without a limp after the game, but was not available for the rest of the tournament.
Wagner had an MRI exam the next day that the Lakers said confirmed a knee contusion. Lonzo Ball sat out the final eight games of last season because of a knee contusion.
The Lakers drafted Wagner, a 21-year-old center, with the 25th pick in this year’s draft. Wagner grew up in Germany and played college basketball at Michigan.
After the preseason is over, the Lakers will re-evaluate the status of Wagner’s injury. The Lakers’ final preseason game is Oct. 12 against Golden State. The Lakers will open their regular season Oct. 18 in Portland.
Ball’s progress impresses
Ten and a half weeks after Ball’s arthroscopic knee surgery, his progress has impressed people around him.
“I didn’t know he was gonna be full go so fast,” LeBron James said. “He’s been going through live drills the last two and a half days. His bounce is there. His speed is there. So I don’t even know if he even had surgery.”
Ball dealt with three injuries to the left knee last season — a sprained ligament, a contusion and a torn meniscus. He had surgery for the meniscus July 17. Ball also had a platelet-rich plasma injection in early May.
To start training camp, Ball was held out of full-contact drills. The Lakers had one two-a-day session this week — in their first day of camp, which was Tuesday. Ball sat out of their first practice, which included more contact, and participated in the evening session. By Thursday, though, Ball was a full participant in practice.
“I was shocked how good he looked in the last two days as far as his feel for the game and being out there and competing,” coach Luke Walton said Friday. “He hasn’t played any basketball since last season. It’s pretty impressive with that much time off, come against guys who have been working all summer, in camp already, you can’t really notice a difference between him and the other guys.”
The Lakers don’t plan to play Ball in Sunday’s game.
James’ scouting report
On Sunday night at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, James will make his Lakers debut against the Denver Nuggets.
He’s excited, but not too excited as this is only a preseason game.
Not only will it be James’ first game as a Laker, it will also be his first game as a player in the Western Conference. That doesn’t mean James is unfamiliar with his pending foe.
“They added [Isaiah Thomas] but for the most part it’s the same team so I don’t think they’re changing what they’re doing,” James said. “What they do works very well. For the most part, it starts with the Joker [Nikola Jokic]. He’s going to be the guy in the middle of the floor playmaking and all those guys moving around from Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap is a great playmaker as well and then they bring in Will Barton and those guys off the bench.
“So they play with a lot of high pace. They move the ball. They share the ball. I know [coach] Mike Malone from my days back in Cleveland so I know what he’s all about, so, there’s your scouting.”
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