Jonathan Isaac was likely lost for the season when he injured his knee in January. But the season’s delay has him hoping he could return.
The Orlando Magic did not want the season to go on hiatus. At least, based on the way they were playing.
The team was rolling through a road trip, winning three of four games with rousing victories over the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies. The feeling on the plane heading home from Memphis, according to FOX Sports Florida’s Dante Marchitelli on the latest episode of Locked On Magic was this team was beginning to turn a corner and put all the pieces together.
This was not the time for a sudden stop in the season.
Everyone understands why the season had to stop though. Everyone agrees with why the season had to stop. Stemming the tide of the coronavirus pandemic is an endeavor for everyone worth pursuing.
And so the season sits on hiatus. When it will come back, nobody knows.
The NBA is certainly optimistic it will be able to return at some point to complete the season. And that delay has only increased anticipation for a team like the magic.
Yes, Orlando was in an incredible rhythm offensively and rounding into form defensively as the season went on hiatus. Yes, the Magic were preparing for a home-heavy schedule featuring mostly teams with losing records — the teams the Magic have feasted on.
But if there is one positive that could come out of all of this, it is the chance for a team like the Magic to get healthy. It is a chance for them to get back some of the missing pieces from the season.
That includes one of the team’s best and most promising players in Jonathan Isaac.
With the season possibly stretching into May and June now, possibly even later, the chances for Jonathan Isaac to return to the floor have increased.
While he was speaking about his charitable efforts during the coronavirus pandemic with SiriusXM NBA Radio, he said if he is healthy when the season returns, he has every intention of coming back and playing.
Isaac suffered a posterior lateral corner injury in his right knee on Jan. 1 in a win over the Washington Wizards as he was trying to Euro-step into a fast-break layup. It was a freak injury that could have been much worse than it was.
Isaac, fortunately, did not require surgery and the team opted for yet another slow approach in his recovery. While there was an initially optimistic prognosis for his recovery, the team was not about to rush one of its prized players back into the lineup. Especially if they were going to fight for just the 7- or 8-seed.
There are bigger fish to fry down the line. And Isaac is a big part of that.
At the time of the season’s hiatus, Isaac was traveling with the team again and doing at least some set shooting. He was not doing anything active on the court or physical contact quite yet.
It is not clear how close Isaac actually is to his return to the court. And certainly, without access to the Magic training facility, his return to the court will slow down. He will not be able to make progress on the court.
The good news is that Isaac should still be able to let his body recover from the injury and do weight training on his own.
The plain fact is that nobody really knows what the team will look like as a whole when the season resumes. There is plenty of concern over how the players will stay in shape without access to the facility and a consistent court.
Social distancing and isolation will make every player around the league a bit rusty when they return to the court and full 5-on-5 play. Teams are going to need some time to re-acclimate.
But when things get going, there is at least an outside chance Isaac returns. He seems determined to get back himself.