The injury bug continues to roar its ugly head against the Orlando Magic.
Less than 24 hours after dynamic forward Jonathan Isaac was taken off the floor in Washington on a stretcher, the Magic announced they’d be without their defensive ace for at least 8-to-10 weeks. Isaac, who tangled knees with Bradley Beal attempting to euro step past the Wizards All-Star, avoided any “major” structural damage to the knee, but will still miss time with what the team termed as a “severe” sprain and bone contusion.
When Isaac originally went down, the fear was he might’ve torn one, or multiple, major ligaments in his knee. Following the game, coach Steve Clifford said he thought he heard a “pop” when Isaac went down.
Obviously losing Isaac for any amount of time is going to be a big blow for the Magic.
The third-year forward was coming into his own early in the season, and was making a case to be put on one of the NBA’s All-Defensive teams with his stout play on that end of the floor. On and almost nightly basis Isaac was terrorizing defenders jumping passing lanes, or sending an opponents shot right back at them.
Add in the injuries to Aaron Gordon, who could miss a significant amount of time with soreness in his achillies, and the torn meniscus for Al-Farouq Aminu, and now the Magic are in a tough spot at the forward positions.
Likely, in the short term, the team will have to go small, with the likes of Wes Iwundu, Melvin Frazier Jr, and Amile Jefferson seeing an increase in playing time. Khem Birch, who got major run playing the four next to both Nikola Vucevic and Mo Bamba on Wednesday night, will also likely see an increase in minutes.
The Magic do have some flexibility still, as they’re one of the few teams in the league who have an open roster spot. That means they could look at potential free agents, or go into the G-League and sign someone. They could also look to make a trade, be it minor, or major, and bring in a player who could play one, or both forward positions.
A final option for the Magic could be utilizing 10-day contracts, which players can begin to sign as early as Sunday.
Overall, the news of Isaac’s injury is a big blow to the Magic, but is still good news for them.
Avoiding a major injury, which would cost Isaac not only the rest of this season, plus the offseason and into next year, is huge. It opens the door for a potential return this season, should the Magic stay afloat and in the playoff race.
Staying in playoff contention will, arguably, be the toughest things for the Magic. Isaac was blossoming into their best player this season, and not having him hurts not only the defense, but some of their strength offensively as well. Isaac was one of the best at crashing the offensive glass, and would find seemingly at least one put-back dunk a game.
For now, the Magic will turn to evaluating all their options in finding someone to soak up some of Isaac’s minutes, while also getting out a big sigh of relief that the injury isn’t more serious.