Just when you thought the Magic were officially tanking....
After holding out Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, and allotting heavy minutes to Lakeland Magic alums, some of the Magic’s starters are expected to be back in the lineup when Orlando faces Toronto on Sunday.
To the surprise of probably everyone, that could include Terrence Ross, who has been out since he sprained his MCL and suffered a non-displace fracture of his right tibial plateau on November 29 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In their injury report for their game Sunday in Toronto, the Magic have listed Terrence Ross (knee), Aaron Gordon (calf) & Nikola Vucevic (back) as probable to play. Jonathan Isaac (ankle), Jonathon Simmons (wrist) & Evan Fournier (knee) are listed as out.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) April 7, 2018
During his rehab from the injury, Ross suffered a bone bruise, which was a setback that was expected to cost him the remainder of the season. But with three games remaining, it looks like Ross will be back on the court, albeit with what will likely be a pretty restrictive minutes limit.
With the Magic looking to improve their lottery odds in the great tank race, many fans might question the logic behind bringing Ross back. But the Magic are just about locked into either the fourth or fifth worst record in the league (we really need the Mavs to beat the Suns!) and are facing three opponents that will be heavily favored whether the Magic are at full strength or not: the top-seeded Raptors who have already clinched the best record in the East, followed by the Bucks and Wizards, both of whom will likely be playing for playoff positioning.
Still, it’s a surprise considering Frank Vogel told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel in late-March that it was unlikely Ross would be back on the court this season.
“If we were gearing up for a playoff run, there would probably be a potential [of him playing] for the final week,” Vogel said. “But I don’t think he’s really done enough and been in game shape and strengthening his lower body. I don’t think there’s enough time for him to probably get back in. It’s not 100 percent [certain he won’t play], but I think it’s unlikely.”
Vogel has apparently had a change of heart. John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com reports that Vogel’s experience with Paul George’s recovery from his gruesome leg injury is the motivation behind Ross’ return.
.@OrlandoMagic G Terrence Ross, who hasn’t played since Nov. 29 b/c of a knee injury, upgraded to PROBABLE for Sun’s game vs @Raptors. Frank Vogel feels it’s important for him to get back before end of season. He feels that helped Paul George in his comeback from a broken leg.— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) April 7, 2018
Ross had been struggling on the offensive end prior to his injury, averaging just 9.0 points per game, the lowest since his rookie season in Toronto, and shooting just 32.9 percent from three, the worst of his career. He shifted from the starting lineup to the bench in favor of Jonathon Simmons.
It will certainly be good to see Ross healthy and back on the court, squaring off against his old team. With what we expect will be a minutes restriction, he shouldn’t take much playing time away from the younger players the Magic have been evaluating, and with the quality of the opponents the Magic are playing, his presence shouldn’t have much of an impact on the result.
But, coupled with the probable return of Vucevic and Gordon, the reunion of the core of the Magic’s starting unit could be a risky move when even one win could mean an eight percent drop in the likelihood of obtaining a top-three pick.
What are your thoughts?