The Orlando Magic are patient with injuries. Their players are sometimes begrudgingly so. Fans are completely impatient and loudly tapping their foot as the team struggles with injuries yet again in the early part of the season (we have a usual five players out once again).
If you talked to Jonathan Isaac at media day, he would say he could play that day if the team would let him. He would probably still say that. With Isaac, the Magic are still going through their paces to ensure a safe and permanent return.
Markelle Fultz would likely say the same thing. Fultz indeed has said the same thing.
Players always want to play. They always feel ready to play even with how much they know and listen to their bodies. Caution always comes from the team side, even if the player ultimately understands the reason for that caution.
Markelle Fultz is still awaiting final clearance to return to the court after breaking his toe. The Orlando Magic are notoriously patient, but that is what it takes to fully recover.
Fultz was seemingly set for a big season according to all the whispers and player hype before training camp. Then came word that he had fractured his big toe and he would be out indefinitely. It is a tricky injury that simply needs time to heal and recover.
That is where the Magic stand now three weeks into the season and seven weeks since the announcement he would be out.
Fultz is still waiting for final clearance that his fracture has healed, he tells Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel (subscription required). All anyone can do is wait for final clearances and then begin to ramp up toward play. Fultz says he hopes to be back in 3-4 weeks, seemingly aiming for that December homestand as a chance to get integrated and back into play.
That too might be when Isaac gets his final clearance to play or takes that last important step of playing 5-on-5 against teammates. December could indeed bring its share of Christmas gifts for the Magic in terms of health.
But it is all about the patience of getting there. Especially for players with long-term injuries.
And that is all the Magic can ask for from players as they get fully recovered and from fans as they wait for the team to get back to full health.
That is something a lot of Magic fans seem to be in short supply of when it comes to injury and the long injury list the team has had in the last two years. But unfortunately, that is what is required with injuries.
At least this time, the Magic have let players give these kinds of updates get by some fans have some sense of where they are at. Additionally, Gary Harris is reportedly at the same step Jonathan Isaac is, playing five-on-five with coaches. Assumedly he needs less conditioning time than Isaac, who has not played since August 2020.
These recovery processes are still all about waiting for the initial injury to heal and then working players back onto the court. The unfortunate thing is that there are no timelines for these.
Sure there might be a typical recovery period, but that does not reach what individual players do and how they recover on their own. Everyone has their own timeline. And there should not be any rushing of that even if that leads to some frustration.
Magic fans know how patient the team is. But patience is what it takes to be successful in injury recovery. A player cannot play unless they are healthy. And with several key players, the Magic want to take the extra step to ensure that a player is healthy and limit the chances for re-injury.
That is really the game here. Orlando wants players like Isaac and Fultz especially to be back on the court. But they want them back on the court without any setbacks. They want them to play and play for good without many restrictions or further injury concerns.
That is what is taking so much time.
For Fultz, that means he is not doing a whole lot more than what he is doing now — some shooting drills and basic cutting — until he gets confirmation that his fracture is fully healed. That is not the case yet and so he and the team continue to wait.
And that is all the team can do as they too look for those final clearances. It just takes some patience.