Orlando Magic Rumors: Jonathan Isaac cleared to play Monday

The delay may give Jonathan Isaac and the Orlando Magic the chance to be healthy again. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The delay may give Jonathan Isaac and the Orlando Magic the chance to be healthy again. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

After nearly eight months out with an injury, Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is preparing to step back onto the floor in the team’s final scrimmage.

The question every Orlando Magic fan has asked since the league announced it would return to play: Will Jonathan Isaac be healthy to play for the team?

Jonathan Isaac suffered a posterior lateral corner injury to his left knee when his leg wrapped around Bradley Beal’s leg on a fast break layup attempt on Jan. 1 in Washington, D.C. It was a devastating injury, but one that did not require surgery.

The team said he would be re-evaluated in March and there was at least some hope that if things went well, he could return before the end of the season. But knowing how cautious the Magic are it seemed unlikely.

Then Isaac got a gift — time.

The coronavirus pandemic put the season on hold and gave Isaac the time to recover and do strength training and rehab on his own. The season, like Isaac, was in stasis.

So the league kicked back on. Isaac returned to the gym and everyone waited and wondered.

The wait and the wonder is over.

Josh Robbins of The Athletic reports — and Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel has since confirmed — Isaac has been cleared to play and will suit up for the Orlando Magic in Monday’s final scrimmage against the Denver Nuggets.

Before his injury, Isaac was putting together a career season, averaging a career-best 12.0 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game. More impressively, Isaac was leading the league in “stocks” — steals and blocks combined — with 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks per game.

Isaac was becoming a real defensive terror.

He was getting early consideration for the league’s All-Defensive teams. His defensive masterpiece against the Dallas Mavericks where he was a steal short of a 5×5 — at least five of five major statistical categories — was one of the most impressive individual performances from the team this season. It was the only Magic loss that made our list of the top-10 games of the season before the hiatus.

With Isaac on the floor, the Magic gave up 105.2 points per 100 possessions, the best mark for any of the starters and more than a point per 100 possessions better than the team’s average on Jan. 1.

The team’s defense has fallen way off, the season average ballooning by nearly two points per 100 possessions to 108.7 for the season. That is not all on Isaac. But the team has missed his defensive presence.

In addition, Isaac was gaining significant confidence on offense. He was averaging a career-high in points and also shooting a career-best 46.3 percent from the floor. He still needed to work on his 3-point shot at 33.0 percent, but he was starting to be more assertive and aggressive within his role.

Magic fans — and the organization — are rightly excited for the 6-foot-10 forward’s potential and future.

That was one of the key messages the Magic had as they were considering whether to bring him back.

President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said repeatedly the team was planning to play without him, even as they included him in their travel party inside the Disney campus.

Coach Steve Clifford added throughout the weeks the team was inside Disney that the team was moving him along at a comfortable pace but they did not want to rush him. Clifford said in a press availability that they had talked with Isaac about how important he was for the future.

They did not want to risk his long-term health and rush him back too quickly.

Clearly he has met all the benchmarks the training staff has set for his return.

No one should expect Isaac to make the kind of impact he was making earlier in the season. Like with Mohamed Bamba, who has been on a minute restriction as he rebuilds his conditioning and playing shape, Jonathan Isaac likely will not be able to play significant time all at once. And he is just as likely to be coming off the bench to start and manage his minutes more.

The Magic will be trying to get his conditioning back after nearly eight months off the floor. It has indeed been a long road back.

dark. Next. Orlando Magic have to build fast as final scrimmage nears

Now perhaps the most important player for the Magic’s future is ready to step back onto the floor once again.