Reports: Jonathan Isaac expected to make return Monday

It has been well longer than a year since Jonathan Isaac's surgery. And Orlando Magic fans are eager to see him back. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It has been well longer than a year since Jonathan Isaac's surgery. And Orlando Magic fans are eager to see him back. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

It has been 903 days since Jonathan Isaac was last on an NBA floor. Even longer since he played in front of an NBA crowd.

The knee injury he suffered on the Capital One Arena floor against the Washington Wizards derailed what was turning into a fantastic season for the then-third-year forward. He was a dominant defender that changed games and set the tone for the team everywhere.

The knee injury he suffered in an empty gym at Disney’s Wide World of Sports campus derailed his career.

A torn ACL is not a career-ending injury anymore. But as time went on Isaac’s recovery slowed down. The Magic were trying to be patient and ensure his full health after injuries derailed the first three years of his career.

There was setback after setback. Frustration after frustration. Calls for patience more and more.

So what is one more day? Because all that frustration and all that patience is finally put behind Isaac, this team and its fans.

According to several reports, Jonathan Isaac is expected to make his return to the court for the Orlando Magic after a more-than-two-year absence.

After two years away from the court recovering from a torn ACL and hamstring surgery, Jonathan Isaac is expected to make his return to the court Monday against the Boston Celtics.

As of 1:30 p.m., the Magic have not posted their injury report for Monday’s game. But Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel reports the Magic are likely to upgrade Isaac to QUESTIONABLE later today with an eye toward making him available for Monday’s game.

If you are to believe Isaac’s appearance at Jump Ministries, the church he attends that posts its services online, Isaac is indeed back and will make his season debut Monday. Shams Charania of The Athletic is also reporting Isaac will return to the court Monday.

This has obviously been a long time coming for Isaac.

He has worked methodically back with the Magic showing growing concern about the length of his layoff more than the original injury. Orlando has always intended for Isaac to be back for good once he steps onto the court.

That only raised more questions as the delay of his return grew. But the team took some major steps in his return over the past week that were the necessary prelude to this moment.

Isaac made his debut with the Lakeland Magic two weeks ago, playing three games in the G-League in his first competitive games since that injury in the Bubble seemingly a lifetime ago.

He looked fairly impressive in those games too. He averaged 15.7 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game and 2.0 blocks per game. He struggled to shoot, making only 16 of 39 shots (41.0 percent) and just 1 of 12 3-pointers.

Isaac looked very much like a rusty player who had not played for two years. He will still need to rebuild his conditioning and his ability to play for long stretches. But all the elements that made Isaac special were present. He was a terror on the inside with energetic activity around the basket on both ends of the floor. His fluidity in his movement was all still there.

More importantly, Isaac never looked afraid to take contact. He was willing to mix things up and showed no wear from the injury. The only wear was his ability to stay active and fight off fatigue.

Isaac certainly will return with some restrictions as he ramps up into normal play. It is safe to say he will not play back-to-backs to start off with and will be limited to 15 minutes.

This makes this week a perfect stretch to bring him back.

He can play three games at home before the Magic head out on the road for their next long road trip — they play three of four games at home this week with a back-to-back in Miami and Orlando on Friday and Saturday. That should get Isaac some time to get back up to speed.

The hope for the Magic is that this is not a stop-and-start for him and that he will be back for good, slowly ramping up to regular minutes.

It would be impossible to expect Isaac to be the immediate defensive impactor he was before his first injury. He was a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate before his initial knee injury

But, like with all things, he has to take steps to get there. And this is the big first step.

Orlando Magic's race to the playoffs begins now. dark. Next

Whether Isaac actually plays Monday or not, his return is finally imminent. That light is finally here at the end of the tunnel. And Isaac will finally stop being the great what-if of this franchise.