Chris Paul is listed as day-to-day for the Los Angeles Clippers with a bruised right knee, and could be back in the lineup as soon as Tuesday night's game against the Houston Rockets -- although the way NBA stars have reacted to supposed knee bruises this season, the Clippers might have more to worry about.
The Clippers gave fans sign to be optimistic Monday night. First, they romped over the Memphis Grizzlies, a team they've owned of late, with Eric Bledsoe dropping in 14 points in Paul's starting spot while Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes led the team with 16 points a piece off the bench. And Vinny Del Negro termed his star point guard as day-to-day after the game:
"The smart thing to do right now is let him get some therapy and get some rest and make sure he heals up properly," Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Every day it’ll be a kind of a game-time decision."
But other NBA players have missed large chunks of time after being given the seemingly innocuous diagnosis of "knee bruise." Tyreke Evans just had a bone bruise, and missed 11 games, although he's been fine since returning to action. Anderson Varejao just had a knee bruise, and has since been diagnosed as having a split quadriceps and needed surgery that will keep him out for six-to-eight weeks. Amare Stoudemire just had a knee bruise, suffered in a similar way to Paul's -- Paul banged his knee into J.J. Redick's, Stoudemire bumped his against teammate Chris Copeland -- but eventually needed knee surgery on a cyst that kept him out for the first two months of the season. Andrew Bynum had offseason procedures done on his knee that were supposed to keep him out through a few weeks of training camp, but then he suffered just a bone bruise, that pushed his timetable for return into the regular season, into December, and now, he still has yet to practice with his team.
Does this mean Chris Paul is out for the year? Probably not. First off, Stoudemire and Bynum aren't good examples, because they've had extensive issues there in the past. But it does seem as if "just a knee bruise" has a tendency to turn into something bigger. Likely, it just means that NBA teams like terming guys with sore knees as having a "knee bruise" instead of raising panic in case it does turn out to just be a knee bruise. But knees are important -- running and jumping are sort of key to basketball -- and if your knee hurts, its hard to do both, amongst other things. And more worrisome, if your knee hurts, there's a chance there's something amiss amongst all the cartilage and muscles and ligaments and bones that make an important joint work, and there's a chance you could hurt there for a while.
Hopefully, Paul is just a bit sore and can play tonight and keep going forward. But recent NBA injury releases this season have given us reason to doubt it's "just a knee bruise".