Hardship Exception An Option For Injury-Plagued Magic

The Magic have a full 17-man roster, with 15 players on standard contracts and a pair on two-way contracts, but should have a path to temporarily add an 18th man if they so choose.

The NBA’s hardship provision gives a team hit hard by injuries an opportunity to sign an extra player if at least four players have missed three or more games due to injury or illness and are expected to miss at least two more weeks. Once one of those injured players gets healthy, the team has to return to its usual roster limit.

The Magic have two players – Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac – out for the season due to ACL tears, and Cole Anthony will be sidelined through the All-Star break with a rib fracture. Additionally, Aaron Gordon was diagnosed on February 1 with a severe ankle sprain that was expected to keep him on the shelf for about four to six weeks.

Anthony has now missed three games, so unless the Magic anticipate Gordon will beat his projected recovery timeline and return within the next week or two, the team is eligible to apply for an extra roster spot via hardship provision.

An extra player would provide more depth to a roster that is also dealing with injuries to Evan Fournier (low back spasms), James Ennis (right groin strain), and Al-Farouq Aminu (right knee injury maintenance), all of whom are listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. New York.

It’s not clear whether or not the Magic will look to take advantage of the opportunity. The team already made one change to its roster earlier this week, signing Chasson Randle to a two-way contract to replace injured point guard Frank Mason.

If Orlando does add a player, the team may prefer to promote someone from the G League (like Randle), since players at the NBAGL’s Walt Disney World bubble are subject to a less strict quarantine and testing process than a free agent off the street would be.

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