The Orlando Magic frontcourt, once a logjam, has become an area of need.
When the Magic front office opted to use its limited offseason resources on the signing of Al-Farouq Aminu, it didn’t exactly address the team’s most pressing needs, but it did bolster their frontcourt depth. It gave the Magic an insurance policy should Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon be unable to replicate the healthy season that they - and the team overall - enjoyed in 2018-2019.
When Aminu suffered a torn meniscus in late November, that frontcourt safety net was removed. Then came the knee injury to Isaac. That left Gordon, who has been battling lingering injuries throughout the season.
Aminu underwent surgery on Tuesday and will be reevaluated in 12 weeks, all but ending his season. While Isaac won’t require surgery, he won’t be reevaluated until mid-to-late March, raising doubts that he will play again this season. To compensate, the injury-ravaged Magic have applied for two Disabled Player Exceptions, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Orlando Magic have applied for two Disabled Player Exceptions — for Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu — with the NBA that would project season-ending losses, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 10, 2020
The exception is typically designed for players who are deemed out for the season, but even if granted, it allows for the return of the injured player. The Magic, who have an open roster spot, left the door open for potential returns by Isaac and Aminu, rather than offering a more concrete timeframe.
If granted, the exception frees up some cash for the Magic and provides roster flexibility to pursue players via a more lucrative one-year deal in free agency or through waivers or trades, provided the player to be acquired is in the final year of his deal. The Magic are simply keeping their options open for potential reinforcements.
Disabled Player Exceptions in Orlando would be worth:— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) January 10, 2020
* $4.6M- Al-Farouq Aminu
* $2.9M- Jonathan Isaac
NBA has to deem that both players are out until June 15.
Smart move by the Magic PR in not putting a return date for both players.
Without Isaac, the Magic have won four of five games while starting either Wes Iwundu at small forward or Khem Birch a power forward, depending on match-ups. The sustainability of that success will be tested with the Magic starting a season-high six-game road trip on Friday.
Still without Michael Carter-Williams, D.J. Augustin is doubtful for Friday’s game against the Suns because of a knee contusion. If Augustin is unable to play, two-way player Josh Magette would back-up Markelle Fultz.
Gordon (calf tightness) is listed as questionable for the Suns game, meaning Iwundu and Birch could both find themselves in the starting lineup in Phoenix. So the Magic bench, already without three rotation players, could be even shorter for the start of the road trip.