After not enjoying in a basketball recreation in practically 2 1/2 years, Orlando Magic ahead Jonathan Isaac will play within the G League earlier than making his return to the NBA ground.
Isaac will play for the group’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, on Wednesday vs. the Westchester Knicks at RP Funding Center (7 p.m., ESPN+ and Bally Sports Sun/Bally Sports+) in his first recreation since Aug. 2, 2020 — when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
It isn’t generally known as of Tuesday whether or not Isaac would play in another Lakeland video games throughout Orlando’s highway journey, however there’s a very good probability he does relying on how he bodily responds to being in recreation motion once more. Lakeland hosts the Greensboro Swarm on Friday and Saturday.
It additionally wasn’t recognized when Isaac will return to NBA motion. He didn’t journey for the Magic’s five-game West Coast highway journey, which ends in opposition to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
Orlando performed the Trail Blazers in Portland on Tuesday night. The Magic will play the Utah Jazz on Friday earlier than enjoying the Nuggets.
The Magic assigned Isaac to Lakeland on Tuesday afternoon.
When Isaac performs for Orlando once more has but to be decided.
Isaac missed the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and hasn’t performed since tearing the ACL — greater than 29 months since he’s performed in an NBA recreation.
When factoring within the time he was sidelined earlier than the ACL damage, Isaac hasn’t constantly performed basketball in nearly three full years.
He had simply recovered from a significant left knee damage in January 2020 earlier than tearing a ligament throughout the league’s restart. His lone setback in his rehab — a proper hamstring damage in mid-March that required surgical procedure — stalled his progress.
But enjoying for Lakeland is an encouraging signal that he’ll be suiting up for Orlando within the close to future.
Isaac has been coaching with Orlando and Lakeland for the previous month and performed 5-on-5 in opposition to different basketball gamers for the primary time for the reason that ACL damage on Dec. 6.
Issac went between the 2 groups all through December, together with training with Lakeland on Dec. 27. He absolutely practiced with Orlando final Monday and Tuesday, which he stated was his first time enjoying 5-on-5 together with his Orlando teammates as a part of a observe. The first session featured 5-on-5 scrimmaging and stay motion, with the latter being much less intense.
Multiple individuals with data of the state of affairs advised the Orlando Sentinel that the Magic and Isaac spent the final week or so deciding if he’d play for Lakeland.
But getting again into recreation motion with the G League is a part of his return-to-play course of.
Initially, Isaac simply practiced with Lakeland. But he steered he’d do greater than that whereas talking with reporters final Wednesday when it turned clear he’d keep in Central Florida throughout Orlando’s highway journey.
“That’s a tough one because there are some other things we are working on and talking about,” Isaac stated when requested if he’d journey. “I can’t say now, but there have been talks about it and we’ll cross that hurdle when we get there.”
Isaac is within the second 12 months of a 4-year, $69.6 million contract extension he signed with the Magic in December 2020 — 4 months after his ACL damage.
Because he didn’t play final season, his $17.4 million salaries for the 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons turned partially or non-guaranteed due to an Exhibit 3 (Prior Injury Exclusion) clause in his contract, according to ESPN.
He’s assured $16 million for 2022-23 (turns into absolutely assured for $17.4 million Wednesday), $7.4 million for 2023-24 (absolutely assured $17.4 million if he’s on the roster after Jan. 10, 2024) and has a non-guaranteed wage for 2024-25 (absolutely assured $17.4 million previous Jan. 10, 2025).
The Magic haven’t put a timetable on Isaac’s restoration at any level.
“Just monitoring how he responds to things,” coach Jamahl Mosley stated. “As you give him a little bit more, how do they respond to each piece? That’s very important.”
Isaac stated the prolonged time away from the court docket will make him really feel much more grateful when he does make his return for Orlando.
“Not just grateful to the Magic and the team, but just grateful to God,” he stated. “It has been a long road. It’s been grueling at times. If I didn’t have Him I don’t know if I to get to this moment. To have that peace and assurance that everything is going to be OK, my time is coming, feels good and that’s all because of Him.”