The injury bug hasn’t been friendly to the Orlando Magic this season.
That continued on Saturday night against the Washington Wizards, with arguably the biggest blow yet.
Already down three of their opening night starters, the Magic have lost center Nikola Vucevic for six-to-eight weeks with a broken index finger metacarpal in his left hand. He’s expected to undergo surgery in the coming days.
The loss of Vucevic comes at a time where the Magic couldn’t afford another loss. With Aaron Gordon (strained calf), Terrence Ross (sprained MCL and non-displaced fracture of tibial plateau), Evan Fournier and Jonathan Issac (sprained ankle) all sidelined, the Magic were already scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Prior to the injury, Vucevic was putting together one of his best seasons yet on both ends. Through 33 games, Vucevic has averaged 17.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and a career-high 3.4 assists per game, while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field, and 34 percent from three.
In his absence, the Magic will likely turn to a handful of different players for contributions.
Bismack Biyombo will likely be tabbed as the starter in Vucevic’s place, while Marreesse Speights, Adreian Payne and Khem Birch will also see an increase in time.
The loss of Vucevic, who has consistently been the Magic’s best player, especially over the last month, is a big one. With the season quickly slipping away after a hot start, the Magic will have some tough questions to ask and answer in the coming month and a half leading up to the trading deadline.
What the team does with Vucevic could be one of those. The recovery timeline for the injury puts Vucevic returning right around the deadline, in the best case, and after in the worst. That could make moving him — likely the Magic’s best trade piece — more challenging.