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Isaac travels to Disney but Magic ‘planning on life without Jonathan’

Jeff Weltman didn’t entirely rule out a comeback but said Isaac is joining the team at Disney for support and experience

NBA: Orlando Magic at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Isaac made the trip to Disney World, but it sounds as if he’s there to be a spectator.

“We’re planning on life without Jonathan,” Magic president of basketball operations told the media during a Zoom conference on Tuesday, adding that Isaac is currently capable of only light court work.

Isaac has been out since suffering a knee injury on New Year’s Day. Initially expected to be re-evaluated after six to eight weeks, some held out hope that Isaac would return for the originally scheduled postseason in the spring. The NBA’s hiatus following the COVID-19 outbreak provided Isaac prolonged rehab and recovery time, adding to the likelihood that he would be back on the court for the NBA restart at Disney.

The same could be said for Al-Farouq Aminu, who has been out since November since suffering a torn meniscus. Weltman on Tuesday announced that Aminu did not travel with the team, with staff believing it would be more beneficial for him to continue his rehab at the Magic’s facility.

Isaac did indeed travel with the team to Disney, but Weltman said it should not be taken as an indication that the 22-year-old forward will be back on the court during the restart.

“Jonathan is with the team because it benefits him to be with the team and he wants to be with the team,” Weltman said. “Obviously the same could be said with Farouq, but Jonathan is in a different stage of his rehab. Most of the work that he needs to get done would benefit him more to be around our performance staff than it would to be in the facility at this stage. Obviously, he’s at the stage where he can do a little, light court stuff but that’s about it. Beyond that, I think we just want to keep him attached to the team, he wants to support his teammates. But I wouldn’t read anything into that.”

Being in a playoff environment, one that Weltman believes will be more challenging than any other in league history, could be a valuable experience for a young player like Isaac.

“I feel that it’s an important thing for our young players to see,” Weltman said. “And I think it’s an important thing for our veteran players to go through that they can model that for our young players…We come in with expectations of competing at a high level and we’ll see where things go. There are more variables heading into these playoffs than obviously anyone in our league has ever seen before.”