Jonathan Isaac is untouchable in trade talks right now

Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

With the Orlando Magic currently rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, talks have already begun about trades and roster moves the organization can make to get out of this situation.

One such trade, which was mooted by the good folks over at “The Rights to Ricky Sanchez” podcast, involved sending Jonathan Isaac to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Trade chatter is something this group is going to have to get used to because they have a ton of young talent, as well as two players in Terrence Ross and Gary Harris who were not only mentioned in that fictional 76ers trade, but who also have value as veteran sharpshooters across the league.

The Dec. 15 beginning of the trade season is going to bring a lot of sharks to the Magic’s door.

With trade activity sure to go down after December 15th when more players are eligible to be moved, here is why Jonathan Isaac should stay put with the Orlando Magic for now.

It is easy to forget because Isaac has missed more than two seasons through injury, but there was a time when the prospect of himself and Mo Bamba manning the paint terrified opponents. Who can forget that Summer League (yes Summer League but still…) game where the two blocked everything in their path against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The big question with Isaac is more about when he returns. But there is movement on that front with the Magic announcing he will begin a rehab assignment with the Lakeland Magic as he takes the next step toward playing.

Jonathan Isaac is better than Mo Bamba has ever been for the Magic, and since we last saw him the franchise has added the equally important Wendell Carter and Bol Bol to their ranks.

With the Magic currently ranking 27th in defensive rating (115.3), Isaac’s mobility at the four next to Carter, and occasionally Bol, is too enticing to pass up on without ever allowing it the time to develop.

The Magic just are not in the business of trying to save this season or dealing away young prospects without getting a look at them on the court.

Which leads us fluidly to our next point. How are we supposed to know what Isaac’s trade value is right now? He has been gone for so long, that surely allowing him the time to see what he can be with this group makes the most sense?

Isaac may have been outspoken about topics off the court while he has been gone, but that does not seem to have had a negative impact on team chemistry. He averaged 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game on 34-percent shooting from deep when he was last seen, and the team could do with numbers like that being added to what they already have.

So the front office is not likely to rush into a trade that could make them look foolish if Isaac looks fantastic when he returns. He is still only 24 years old, and despite the obvious length of this roster would be a clear upgrade as a forward if he can remain healthy.

Any trade featuring him is likely to see the Magic come off worse because they would not get fair value for Isaac. Ironically the organization pulled exactly this move on the 76ers before, trading Jonathon Simmons and a pair of second-rounders for Markelle Fultz.

No matter what your opinions on Fultz, and he has had his own fair share of injuries, the Magic won that trade.

Using the fictional offer as an example, and the 76ers would have no problem parting with Tobias Harris, a former Magic player who is making a lot of money (an eye-watering $39 million next season), to get a distressed asset like Isaac. Not to mention Isaac’s contract has several layers of non-guarantees and incentives on it to become worth the full amount. There is an easy escape clause to him.

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In this scenario that is clearly slanted in Philadelphia’s favor, the Sixers are not giving up much. Matisse Thybulle has been buried on their bench (11.6 minutes per game this season, down massive from the 25.5 of last year), and the second round pick doesn’t excite.

If that is the best the 76ers can muster, and, in defense of the 76ers, those two players could contribute for the Magic, then what else is out there in a possible trade for Isaac that would be any better?

Instead, why not examine the future of a player like Chuma Okeke more closely? A player who has been given plenty of run as a forward, and who is a good defender who can shoot the ball. He is also a healthier prospect than Isaac, although is currently injured himself.

Slotting Isaac into Okeke’s minutes would give us a fascinating look at how much, if any, he can raise the ceiling of this roster. At a time when they have lost nine straight, the organization needs all the help they can get.

Isaac may yet be a trade candidate for the Orlando Magic. In truth, many fans would not even mind seeing him go. But the time to move on this issue is not now. Instead, let Isaac show what he can do when he returns.

Next. Jonathan Isaac will be a bonus for the Orlando Magic. dark

Worst case scenario all he does is improve his own stock, to then be paired with others on the roster in pursuit of better players down the line. This is a panic trade option that should not be explored at this point in the team’s growth.