Jeff Weltman on Monday confirmed what we all unfortunately expected.
“We will not have Jonathan Isaac next season,” he told reporters Monday when asked to assess the team going forward. “So, that has to account into our thinking.”
Isaac suffered a torn ACL in what was just his second “regular season” game back from a knee injury he sustained on New Year’s Day. It was a devastating blow to a Magic team that seemed to be getting a thriving Isaac back just in time for the postseason, and for Isaac himself after he had worked so hard through rehab to rejoin the team.
“I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that his injury is a kick in the teeth for all of us,” Steve Clifford told reporters Monday. “He’s a big part of our plan going forward. He’s a very talented player, and he also brings great intangibles to our team. So, to say that that injury is not significant would be naive on my part and untruthful to you.”
Weltman didn’t elaborate on a timeframe for Isaac’s return, but given the typical recovery period for a torn ACL, it was originally expected that Isaac would miss most, if not all, of next season.
Of course, there are some variables at play. The biggest of which is that nobody knows exactly when the season is going to begin. And of course, back when the Magic arrived at the NBA bubble in July and Isaac’s return was still in question, Weltman said this:
“We’re planning on life without Jonathan.”
And we all know how that played out.
So, perhaps Weltman is again simply tempering expectations and planning for the worst case scenario. If all goes well with Isaac’s rehab, and the season is pushed back far enough, maybe there’s at least a slim chance Isaac returns for a postseason run.
But given the Magic’s cautious approach with injuries, along with Isaac’s history and Orlando’s plethora of forwards, odds are we don’t see Jonathan Isaac back on the court in a Magic uniform until the 2021-2022 season.
That, of course, raises long-term questions as to what the Magic do once the time comes to sign Isaac to an extension. Paying for potential can be dangerous, particularly for a player who, while showing tantalizing upside, has played in just 136 of a possible 237 regular season games over his first three seasons.