The Orlando Magic are getting their house in order to add another player, keeping their options open with the application for a disabled player exception.
The news for the Orlando Magic on the injury front was not good Wednesday.
The team announced Al-Farouq Aminu would be out indefinitely after going through a successful surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on Tuesday. The team would re-evaluate him in 12 weeks (around April 1).
Jonathan Isaac got some better new when it was revealed he would not need surgery to repair his severe knee sprain. The Magic are not set to evaluate him again until the end of February.
These are both significant losses for the team. It has certainly left the team in a bind at power forward. Adding in Aaron Gordon‘s continued issues with his ankle, calf and hamstring — he is officially listed as questionable for Friday’s game against the Phoneix Suns — and the Magic are facing some severe depth issues.
Orlando has pieced together lineups using Khem Birch at power forward. But it is far from ideal. Credit to the Magic for making it work in some way. But the road is undoubtedly tougher.
The Magic are at least making a move to give them the flexibility to make it a bit easier.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reports the Magic are going to request a disable player’s exception for both Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu. The move would free up some cash to add a new player of significance it appears.
What this request does not mean is that either Aminu or Isaac are done for the season. It is at least some indication that the Magic are not preparing for them to return, but either player could come back even if the Magic are granted and use the exception.
What the Disabled Player Exception does is give teams with players who are deemed unlikely to play until June 15 an exception to the salary cap to add a player to the roster to replace the player who will be unable to play.
The team is limited to signing or acquiring a player on a one-year deal (they would have to become a free agent the following offseason). They cannot be combined with another player if acquired in a trade — so the Magic could not say trade a player and take on a larger salary using the exception to absorb the extra amount.
Essentially, the exception would allow the Magic to go out and sign a player to replace the injured players at more than the minimum salary. Orlando is over the salary cap, although the team is well beneath the luxury tax line especially after they received a waiver from the league for Timofey Mozgov‘s salary because of his injuries.
After Jonathan Isaac’s injury, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said the team would discuss adding a player in free agency to bolster the roster.
Certainly looking at the team’s depth at the moment it seems needed. Orlando is playing Khem Birch well out of position at power forward. It is unclear how long that is sustainable. And if Aaron Gordon continues to struggle with an injury, adding another player will become vital.
For now, it appears this is all about the Magic maintaining some flexibility. The team certainly seems eager to have that option available to them. Although there seems no rush to fill the position or spot immediately.
What all this ultimately means is the Magic have a little more money to entice a potential buyout option or free agent when the time comes to chase after these players. The Magic have a little added flexibility when it comes to filling the empty roster spot if they are granted this exception.
It does seem the Magic are getting their ducks in a row to sign somebody. It is hard to envision the Magic being able to stick with this lineup for the long haul.
As well as Birch might play, it is clear he is a bit uncomfortable on the perimeter guarding the athletic power forwards. And Gordon continues to have issues with his ankle. If he had to miss any time, the Magic would be unbearably thin at power forward — without a true versatile 4 on the roster.
The situation certainly seems untenable. Orlando will have to make some kind of move to bolster their depth and solidify the position so the team can play the way it w
Getting an injury exception — if granted for Aminu, it would be for a pro-rated amount of about $4.6 million — would allow the Magic to have some weight in this market if they wanted to flex it.
The Magic just have to hope they will get one. Then they will have the opportunity to spend it when the time calls for it.