Magic fans have been told for quite some time that Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz have been doing well with their rehab process.
Still, when it comes to their returns, details are limited and timelines are non-existent. That continued for the most part on Friday when Jeff Weltman met with the media to provide an update on the two players as both rehab from a torn ACL. The main takeaway was that Fultz, who tore his ACL in early January, has been practicing with the Lakeland Magic and is ramping up to live action. Isaac, who tore his ACL in August of 2020, is not yet at that stage.
There is no public timeframe for their return, and Weltman acknowledged the frustration that comes with that from the fans.
“I know that our fans can get frustrated with some of this but we always want to put our fans first and be as transparent as possible,” Weltman told reporters. “That said, the way that we manage our injuries has to be done for the benefit of our players, which is they’re showing up every day, they’re doing their work and they have to know that the timetables are going to be in accordance with the results of their work. And so, no injuries are the same, no two bodies are the same. So, as they have their occasional check-up with doctors and they have imaging, I can just tell you they are both moving forward and they’re doing great.
“As a matter of fact, I actually can tell you that Markelle, we just sent him down this week to start practicing with Lakeland because they’ll have some more live-action situations than we’ll have in the middle of an NBA season. So, he is starting to ramp up to that phase where he’s actually getting involved in some live action. Jonathan isn’t at that point yet but he continues to make great, steady progress and they’re both doing really well.”
Isaac’s return has raised questions from Magic Twitter of a potential setback given that the injury was sustained 15 months ago.
“There is a right way to do this,” Weltman said. “The most important thing for Jonathan is not just that we address the injury, but his whole body. He’s missed essentially two years of action and there’s a lot that comes with that. So making sure that his body is balanced, that it’s strengthen everywhere, that his core is tight. In the meantime, he’s using the time very productively. His body is filling out, his shot looks way improved from the last time he was on the court, and he’s in a really good place. I hope our fans are sticking with him, I know that they are. He’s just made great progress and he’s looking very good. That said, unfortunately, we are never in position to divulge more specific timelines because a lot of what this looks like on the backend is what happens as we go through it. And it’s a day-to-day process, it’s a daily grind and he’s doing really well with it.“
Weltman also said that the refusal to put a timeline on their returns is as much mental as it is physical.
“I hope that part of the way that we manage their rehabilitation is understood by the fans in that a big part of this is the mental aspect of it,” he said. “This is a long, long grind for these guys and being able to show up every day, that's why it’s not fair to them, it’s not healthy to put constant timelines on it. Because this is a long process and they just have to know that their work is paying dividends.”
When Isaac and Fultz do return, Weltman is confident they will return to the form they were just beginning to display before getting injured.
“I think they were both starting to show the league who they are and I know that they’re both eager to pick up that thread when the time comes,” Weltman said. “But we look forward to having them back and their impact on the team will be felt in a great way.”