Markelle Fultz the latest injury as Orlando Magic prepare for camp

The excitement for Markelle Fultz's upcoming season is being dimmed thanks to a toe injury. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
The excitement for Markelle Fultz's upcoming season is being dimmed thanks to a toe injury. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic announced Sunday that Markelle Fultz has suffered a fracture in his left big toe and will be out indefinitely. He is in a walking boot and his return to the court will depend on how he responds to treatment.

To say the least, Fultz is out for the start of training camp. If not some extended period into the preseason or even into the regular season.

For Magic fans, this feels like going through the ringer once again. The Magic have lost the most games to injury of any team in the league the last two seasons — that included Jonathan Isaac missing the entirety of the past two seasons and Markelle Fultz missing the majority of the past two seasons — and it has completely transformed their development and career path.

It again seems like the franchise is snakebitten. Injuries are once again the big story for the team entering training camp.

Markelle Fultz has joined the Orlando Magic’s now-growing injured list entering training camp. Injuries are unfortunately the story once again as the team gets back to work.

Three expected rotation players are either out or have uncertain statuses entering the season now.

The Magic suffered a big loss when Gary Harris had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He was projected to compete for the starting shooting guard spot because of his veteran poise, defense and shooting ability.

It is unclear whether Harris will be able to play during the preseason or how long he will be out.

Harris was set to start last year too before he was a late scratch on opening night. The Magic handed it over to rookie Jalen Suggs and he started the rest of the year (even after Suggs’ own injury issues).

Then there is, of course, Isaac.

There is still no firm word on whether he will be ready to participate in training camp or how close he is to return to the court. He has missed the last two seasons with a torn ACL suffered in the bubble in August 2020.

Logic and injury histories would suggest he should have already been back. He had his own setback last March when he had what the team described as “minor” hamstring surgery.

The Magic have been notoriously patient and guarded with injured players.

Even if Isaac is good to go, it is fair to expect some limits on his return — likely a minute restriction and planned rest days on back-to-backs. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has said the team and the medical staff are cognizant of how long he has gone without playing in the NBA and want to manage that part of his return.

But nobody knows what his status will be. There should be some clarification before the team begins camp Tuesday.

The other lingering injury comes from Suggs himself.

Suggs has ankle surgery early in the offseason that kept him out of Summer League. But he appears to be back on the court training and playing fairly early in the offseason. There does not seem to be any concern about him coming to camp.

Franz Wagner even rolled his ankle and sprained his ankle late in EuroBasket. He returned to play in both the semifinal loss to Spain and the bronze medal game against Poland. So there does not seem to be that much concern.

Still, Magic fans’ hearts skipped a beat when Wagner went down after getting fouled on a 3-pointer in that tournament. It had that feeling of “here we go again.” No one should blame Magic fans for being a bit scared.

Injuries are indeed a part of life in any sport. Very few players play in all 82 games each season. So teams need to be prepared for injuries and for major injuries to starting players. The 82-game season is a marathon.

But losing players in camp hurts much more.

That is where the foundations for the team and the season are build. Especially for young players, this form of competition and learning where mistakes can get corrected in real-time rather than on tape the next day is critical to their development.

Chuma Okeke, for instance, got through training camp his rookie year and it helped him have a solid rookie season, despite an early season injury. He suffered an injury early in camp last year and seemed like he was struggling to catch up both conceptually with what the team was running under new coach Jamahl Mosley and physically as he struggled with that hip injury.

Injuries are a fact of life and teams and players have to navigate them.

But this is still most disappointing for Fultz.

Fultz made his way back from a torn ACL last year, playing 18 games after the All-Star Break. He averaged 10.8 points per game and 5.5 assists per game in 20.0 minutes per game as he played under fairly strict minute restrictions.

He looked like the clear-cut starter for the Magic this season with his ability to impact the game and give them some veteran-like poise.

Adding to that excitement was the potential for his first healthy full offseason of his career.

Injury has defined Fultz’s career completely — from the knee injury he had entering the league to TOS that hurt him early on in his career to the torn ACL that cut his 2021 season short. This was an opportunity for Fultz to take a major step in his career. It was the opportunity to get a major clean slate for him.

Fultz is more than capable of jumping right in whenever he is healthy. But now the Magic will have to see what his status is coming out of this injury and just how much they can push him. As well as what the team looks like.

Training camp would have been a good chance for him to hit the ground running, spark the Magic and put all the injuries behind him.

Next. Orlando Magic should focus on limiting turnovers. dark

Orlando will have to rally once again and find their way through all the injuries. That is once again the story as training camp begins.