Attention turns to Jonathan Isaac’s recovery with Markelle Fultz back

Dec 17, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac (1) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac (1) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

From the very beginning of the season, the Orlando Magic made it clear part of their goal this season was to integrate their injured players back into the fold. They wanted to see both Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz return healthy and begin to see how they fit in with the rest of their group.

This was a season with zero pressure to win (essentially, and the team has said as much) and so being able to work them in through that environment to get their legs under them was crucial.

Fultz finally made his return last Monday after nearly 14 months of recovering from a torn ACL. That was a moment to celebrate.

And so now the attention turns toward the eventual, and hopeful, return of Isaac. With just 17 games remaining and reports that he is not yet doing contact drills — perhaps some controlled contact or bumping with coaches — it is seeming less and less likely he will make his return this season.

With Markelle Fultz returning to the court, Jonathan Isaac’s recovery now comes into sharper focus as Orlando Magic fans await the forward’s return with time running out this season.

The fact that his recovery has been shrouded in mystery and he has been out since August 2020 has only added to the frustration.

So with Fultz now back in the fold and playing again, the attention again turns to Isaac.

There are no clear answers or a clear sense of where Isaac is in his recovery or when he will return. Isaac is just kind of there. He is on the bench during games and working alone after team shootarounds and practices. He is doing his rehab in sort of isolation from the rest of the team.

Everyone is just wondering and waiting for him to reintegrate with the team.

Magic general manager John Hammond was on In The Zone on 96.9 The Game last week and gave this update:

"“No expectation either way,” Hammond said of Isaac’s potential return this season. “We’re trying to keep Jonathan ready physically and keep Jonathan ready mentally. I can tell you, another guy, like Markelle, working extremely hard and doing everything he can to get himself back in the right time and playing well when he comes back. He’s committed to the medical staff, they’re committed to him. I think there’s a great synergy there. Jonathan, one thing about him, he’s a high character, high quality. We’ve never had questions about his work ethic on the floor and going through this rehab process. When the time is right, he’ll be back.”"

Isaac is still doing his work. It is not in front of cameras for the most part (Isaac seemingly always ducks out just when the media enters the practice facility). That is all fine.

Orlando has shown plenty of patience with injured players. And this is a season that affords this kind of patience. There is nothing to lose since the team is content to focus on growth and development over their record.

Still, time is running out for Isaac. And he may need the offseason to get ready for training camp next year, when there will be some pressure for the team to take some steps forward — although not likely pressure to make the playoffs.

Isaac will have plenty of time to recover and work himself back in.

If Fultz’s return is any indication, the Magic’s medical staff will have him ready to play at a pretty high level when he returns.

Fultz did not look like he missed a beat, scoring 10 points and six assists in the Orlando Magic’s win over the Indiana Pacers. He has not quite reached those highs in his two games since, but he is moving well, picking his spots to attack and distributing the ball well.

Fultz still has a long way to go to get his legs under him. But he is already making a positive impact and is able to contribute pretty quickly. He hit the ground running.

Of course, the frustrating part is that it took Fultz so long to come back. But it all seems worth it at this point.

Hammond said Isaac has unnatural defensive instincts and he should be able to step back in and make an impact. Like Fultz, Isaac has had the opportunity to work on his shot during his hiatus. So that will be something to watch.

Of course, nobody really outside the Magic’s training facility has seen Isaac on the court doing his work. Everyone is still waiting.

Next. Orlando Magic need to make their experimenting worth it. dark

And it seems like the team will have to wait a little bit longer.