Magic forward Jonathan Isaac won’t make his long-awaited return from a torn ACL this season after all, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel, who reports Isaac will miss the rest of 2021/22. The team has formally confirmed the news.
Isaac, who suffered a major left knee injury during the first half of the 2019/20 season, returned in the Walt Disney World bubble that year and tore his left ACL in early August. He missed the entire ’20/21 season while recovering from the injury and will now miss all of ’21/22 as well.
Even for an injury as significant as an ACL tear, it’s an unusually long recovery process for Isaac, who has been out for over 19 months and will go more than two full years between game action if he returns for the start of next season. For comparison’s sake, Magic point guard Markelle Fultz tore his ACL in January 2021 and has been back on the court for the team since last month.
Still, players who return in about a year from torn ACLs often take a while to recapture their old form. With the Magic very much in the midst of a rebuilding process and holding an 18-51 record that places them last in the Eastern Conference, it makes sense that there would be no real urgency to get Isaac back on the court until he feels 100%.
According to Price, the 24-year-old still hadn’t progressed to full-contact drills as of late last week, so he was running out of time to go through a ramp-up process before the regular season ends on April 10.
“First and foremost, the care of our players will always be our top priority,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “We have to remember that Jonathan has missed essentially two years. While it continues to be a day-to-day process for him as he continues to strengthen and condition all aspects of his body, we feel we have reached a point where it would be prudent to say that he will not play this season.
“I understand this can be frustrating to our fans, but Jonathan has worked extremely hard and he is eager to return to game action, which is why we must continue to manage his rehabilitation with the big picture in mind. Quite frankly, we are just out of time to ramp him up to play in games this season.”
Prior to his injury, Isaac was one of the NBA’s most talented, versatile defenders, having averaged 2.3 blocks and 1.6 steals per game in 34 appearances in 2019/20. He was also in the process of expanding his offensive game, putting up 11.9 PPG on .470/.340/.779 shooting in ’19/20 before tearing his ACL.
Isaac is under contract for three years beyond this season, at a rate of $17.4MM annually.