Jonathan Isaac

Southeast Notes: Ball, Goodwin, Young, Murray, Isaac

While there has been growing optimism that LaMelo Ball will soon make his season debut, it won’t happen on Monday night. The team’s PR department lists him as out for the Hornets’ contest against Washington (Twitter link).

Ball suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain in a preseason game on October 10. Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (left shoulder contusion) also remains out of action.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jordan Goodwin, who had his training campcontract converted into a two-way deal in mid-October, has been a pleasant surprise for the Wizards, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Goodwin had nine points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals against Memphis on Sunday and could have a steady role as the third point guard. “He has the heart of a dog. You can’t teach that and you can’t give it out, you’re born with it,” Bradley Beal said.
  • Jonathan Isaac hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2019/20 season but the Magic forward is making progress. “I’ve been playing [5-on-5] the last few weeks and just getting in shape,” Isaac told Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m still getting there. But in terms of body, knees and hamstrings, everything is great. I’m just not in game shape.” Isaac won’t put a timetable on his return, adding “I foresee myself in the next few weeks continuing to get more in shape and being more integrated with the team.”
  • The Hawks entered Monday’s action with a 6-3 record, thanks in large part to their backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Both players are still adjusting to having another high volume guard alongside them but it’s working so far, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez writes. They’re averaging a combined 50.2 points and 17.5 assists per game. “We’re learning each other, trying to understand the new situation we’re both in,” Murray said. “Pushing each other and just knowing that it’s going be a long journey with ups and downs.”

Magic Notes: Fultz, Isaac, Bamba, Bol

Point guard Markelle Fultz and forward Jonathan Isaac are viewed by the Magic as cornerstone pieces, but the two former lottery picks haven’t seen much action in recent years. Fultz has appeared in just 26 games since the start of the 2020/21 season, while Isaac hasn’t played at all during that time.

There was some optimism this summer that this would finally be the year both Fultz and Isaac are back in the Magic’s lineup, but it seems that won’t happen right away. According to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), Isaac is still ramping up and isn’t yet ready for group work, while Fultz – who has a fractured toe – will miss all of training camp and doesn’t yet have a timetable for his return.

It has been a long road back for Isaac in particular — he tore his ACL in 2020 and suffered a setback near the end of his recovery process earlier this year, undergoing a minor procedure in March. However, he told reporters on Monday that he’ll definitely be back on the court this season and that he aims to return sooner rather than later (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel).

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Asked on Monday about his decision to re-sign with the Magic this offseason after not receiving a qualifying offer from the team, Mohamed Bamba cited “familiarity” with the franchise as an important factor (video link via Price). “I love the direction that we’re going in as an organization,” Bamba said. “I’m really close with the coaching staff, and that’s across the board. I feel like there’s so much unfinished business here to do.”
  • Bol Bol has yet to play in a game for the Magic, having undergone foot surgery in January before being acquired by Orlando in a February trade. But he’s back on a new contract with the club and told reporters on Monday that he’s fully healthy entering the 2022/23 season (Twitter link via Price).
  • Isaac’s health and Bol’s potential contributions are among the frontcourt questions facing the Magic this season, Price writes for The Orlando Sentinel. Wendell Carter‘s continued progression at both end of the floor will also be important for Orlando as the team looks to incorporate No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, Price adds.

Magic Notes: Front Office Changes, Isaac, Harris, Shooting

The Magic issued a press release this week announcing a long list of promotions and additions within their basketball operations department.

Among the most noteworthy of those front office changes was the promotion of Pete D’Alessandro – a former high-ranking executive in Sacramento and Denver – to the role of associate general manager. D’Alessandro had previously been an assistant general manager for Orlando.

David Bencs has been promoted to fill D’Alessandro’s old position as an assistant GM, while Adetunji Adedipe was named the Magic’s new vice president of player personnel. Kevin Tiller, meanwhile, has become the new GM of the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s G League affiliate.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Magic players led the NBA last season in games missed due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols (449), according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel, who explores the health-related questions already facing the club this fall. As Price observes, the team will have to address the status of Jonathan Isaac, as well as Gary Harris, on Media Day next week. Isaac hasn’t played since 2020 due to an ACL tear and suffered a setback in March, while Harris underwent surgery this offseason to address a meniscus tear.
  • In a separate story for The Orlando Sentinel, Price identifies three storylines to monitor related to the Magic’s wing players. Besides Harris’ injury, Price will be keeping an eye on Franz Wagner‘s usage following a busy summer with the German national team and will be curious to see how the battle for minutes at power forward could affect the wing rotation.
  • After finishing among the NBA’s bottom four teams in three-point percentage in back-to-back seasons, the Magic hope to improve their shooting this season, Price writes for The Orlando Sentinel, though any upgrades they made in that area may be marginal. Price notes that second-round pick Caleb Houston was a solid three-point shooter at Michigan and suggests that play-makers like Markelle Fultz and Paolo Banchero may be able to open up better looks for teammates beyond the arc.

Southeast Notes: Banchero, Suggs, Isaac, Collins, Wizards

Paolo Banchero is ready to embrace the expectations that come with being a No. 1 pick, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The former Duke star is looking forward to starting workouts with the Magic next week in preparation for his July 7 debut in the Las Vegas Summer League.

“There’s going to be high expectations for myself that I’m going to hold myself to and that everyone is going to hold myself to,” Banchero said during a press conference Friday in Orlando. “But I feel like it’s nothing I’m not used to. It was the same thing for me heading into college, throughout high school, a lot of expectations. It’s been like that my whole life.”

Banchero wasn’t sure he would be the first selection until a few seconds before his name was announced. Orlando conducted a thorough search of several candidates — most notably Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren — and kept its intentions hidden until the draft began.

“There’s things that you’re grabbing from each one that you’re like, ‘Oh, man, wow, that can be great for us,’” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “But then it ultimately comes down to, ‘How does that fit for us? How do we jell with them in the locker room? How are they treating people when they’re walking in?’ Because all those pieces play a factor. And I think we’ve done an incredible job with those details.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs is making progress in his recovery from surgery in April for a slight stress fracture in his right ankle, but he won’t take part in Summer League, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel“Jalen got his boot off and he’s ramping up his recovery,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said. There’s still no set timetable for Jonathan Isaac, Weltman adds, although the team is optimistic that he can be ready for the start of the season.
  • The Hawks didn’t trade John Collins before the draft, but it’s still likely to happen at some point during the offseason, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. A source close to Collins told Kirschner, “He won’t be a Hawk past this summer,” and Kirschner adds that no one he’s talked to expects Collins to be with the team on opening night.
  • The Wizards will explore other options after failing to land a starting point guard on draft night, states Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Washington took Johnny Davis at No. 10, but he’s viewed as a wing rather than a lead guard. “I think a lot of times if you force something on draft night, you’re taking away the opportunity in free agency and everything that free agency represents,” general manager Tommy Sheppard said. “… The point guard, all along I felt it was going to come after the draft, not during the draft.”

Southeast Notes: Young, Bol, Isaac, Unseld Jr.

Hawks guard Trae Young has adopted a new offseason routine this year, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Instead of taking his usual month off, Young was back in the gym a week after Atlanta’s loss to Miami in its first-round series. He’s undertaking a workout regimen that he plans to continue through the NBA Finals, explaining, “because that’s where I want to play.”

“I think it’s gotta be,” Young said. “It’s happened for a lot of the guys who’ve won championships and all the big-time players that’s come before me, throughout this whole league. Everybody has to go through something to push through, to get to that next step. I think this could be that thing.”

The Heat were able to rattle Young by attacking him with multiple defenders, leading to subpar numbers throughout the series. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.2 turnovers in the five games while shooting 31.9% from the field and 18.4% from three-point range.

“I think this is just a learning experience in the early chapter stage of my career that I needed to go through,” Young said. “The Heat did a great job, their defensive schemes, placement, where their guys were, switching it up, making it difficult. Just looking back at some of the mistakes I had, I know I’m going to learn from them, and it’s only going to make me better, and I think that’s a scary thing, if I’m young and I still have a lot to grow from. I think it’s a good thing that I can learn from it.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic big man Bol Bol is continuing rehab work on his injured right foot that required surgery in January, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Bol wasn’t able to play for Orlando after being acquired in a February deal, and he’ll be a free agent this summer. The Magic can make him restricted by extending a $2.7MM qualifying offer, and it sounds like the team still believes in his future. “Bol’s working very hard,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said. “He’s working diligently. He’s working every day. He continues to ramp up. He’s just doing individual work right now. We’re going to be careful with him as we are with everyone to make sure he doesn’t skip steps in his rehabilitation.”
  • Speaking as part of the ReAwaken America Tour, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac explained his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, per Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops“Viewing it, it seemed forced. It seemed that there was so much pressure in doing it,” Isaac said. “I don’t see the wisdom in putting something into my body that’s not going to stop me from getting the virus or transmitting it. That is why I decided to be the only player on my team to not get vaccinated.”
  • First-year coach Wes Unseld Jr. has been selected to represent the Wizards at Tuesday’s draft lottery, the team tweeted this week. Washington has a 3% chance of landing the first pick and a 13.9% chance of moving into the top four.

Eastern Notes: Knicks, R. Williams, Isaac, Portis

The Knicks held a free agent mini-camp this week, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog (Twitter link), who says a number of players with NBA experience were in attendance.

Guards Devon Dotson and Chris Clemons, swingman DaQuan Jeffries, forwards Louis King and George King, and big men Alize Johnson and Reggie Perry were among the players who participated in the Knicks’ mini-camp, per Zagoria. John Petty, Craig Randall, Carlik Jones, Aaron Henry, and A.J. Lawson also took part.

The Knicks won’t necessarily sign any of the free agents who attended the mini-camp, but it gave them a chance to see some of the talent that’s out there as they mull possible Summer League and training camp invites.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics big man Robert Williams, who is still listed as questionable for Game 6 on Friday, was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee after colliding with Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 3, head coach Ime Udoka said today. Williams’ injured knee is the same one he had surgery on in March, but that procedure isn’t the cause of his current absence. “There’s no problems with the surgery at all,” Udoka said, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “It’s just that specific hit that he took (in Game 3).”
  • Because of the injury-related language and games-played requirements in Jonathan Isaac‘s contract with the Magic, his $17.4MM annual salaries for the next three years are now partially guaranteed instead of fully guaranteed, as Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. Isaac has missed two straight seasons due to an ACL tear, but there’s no indication that the Magic are considering waiving him, which is the only way they could avoid paying his full salaries.
  • Bobby Portis only shot 4-of-14 from the floor in the Bucks‘ Game 5 win on Wednesday, but he grabbed 15 rebounds and made the sort of crucial hustle plays the team values, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Averaging a double-double (11.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG) so far this postseason, Portis is once again displaying his value ahead of possible free agency. He holds a $4.6MM player option for 2022/23.

Eastern Notes: Giannis, Hill, Dedmon, Isaac

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo declined to criticize the officiating after Game 3 on Saturday, Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Instead, Antetokoummpo joked that he’d rather avoid the fine and spend his money on something else.

“How much does it cost if I say a comment about the ref?” he asked, as relayed by The Sporting News (Twitter link). “Is it $20,000? It’s a lot of money. So, I should not do it. I’ll save my money, I’ve got to pay for diapers.”

Antetokoumpo, of course, has a two-year-old son. He put forth an excellent performance in Game 3, finishing with 42 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the win. The Bucks were called for six more fouls than the Celtics and shot 17 fewer free throws.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference today:

Magic’s Isaac Suffers Setback, Undergoes Minor Procedure

When the Magic announced last Tuesday that forward Jonathan Isaac would miss the remainder of the season as he continues to recover from a left ACL tear, both the team and Isaac himself said there had been no setbacks in his rehab process.

However, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel, Isaac suffered a setback hours after that announcement, sustaining an injury to his right hamstring. Isaac subsequently underwent a minor surgical procedure, the team announced in a press release.

“Obviously, this was unexpected,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “No one will work harder than Jonathan in the goal to return for the start of next season.”

Neither Price’s report nor the team’s official announcement offers many details on the new injury. The statement from the Magic – who are always cagey about injuries and recovery timelines – doesn’t even explicitly confirm that the minor surgery addressed the hamstring issue, though that’s strongly implied.

According to Price, Isaac is still expected to be ready for the start of the 2022/23 season. But it’s another discouraging development for a player who will have been off the court for more than two full calendar years by the time he suits up again. The 24-year-old forward hasn’t played since he tore his ACL in August 2020,

It’s perhaps a silver lining that the setback didn’t affect Isaac’s left knee. A player recovering from a major leg injury sometimes overcompensates by leaning too heavily on another part of one leg or the other, which may be what happened with Isaac.

Southeast Notes: Isaac, Magic, Hachimura, Morris

Discussing the decision to rule out Jonathan Isaac for the remainder of the season, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and Isaac himself said on Tuesday there hasn’t been a setback in the forward’s recovery process from a torn ACL, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. That recovery process has simply taken a little longer than Isaac and the Magic expected.

“In terms of building the muscle around my knee, it’s taken a bit longer than we’ve wanted it to,” Isaac said.

According to Weltman, Isaac has been participating in half-court contact drills, but hasn’t progressed to full-court contact. There isn’t enough time left in the regular season for Isaac to go through the last few steps he needs to return to action, so the Magic will count on having him available to start the 2022/23 season.

“This is another example of why you just do the work everyday and kind of let the work and timeline unroll at its own pace,” Weltman said, per Price. “That’s the right way to do it.”

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), the injury protection language in Isaac’s rookie scale extension means the Magic would only be on the hook for $23.6MM of the $52.2MM owed to him over the next three seasons if they were to waive him. However, there’s no indication that Orlando is considering that possibility.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • With Isaac and Bol Bol officially ruled out for the rest of the season, Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley should have a clearer sense of which rotation options will be available to him for the final few weeks of 2021/22, Price writes in a separate story for The Orlando Sentinel.
  • After starting all 105 games he played during his first two NBA seasons, Rui Hachimura has come off the Wizards‘ bench in all 27 of his appearances in 2021/22. However, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said it’s possible Hachimura will re-enter the starting lineup before the end of the season. “Everything is on the table,” Unseld said. “I like where he is right now, but as he progresses, we’ll see… Where he is right now from where he was two months ago, it’s night and day.”
  • After returning on Saturday following a four-month absence due to a neck injury, Heat forward Markieff Morris said he only briefly entertained the possibility that he wouldn’t make it back this season, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “At times, doubt crept in,” Morris said. “It probably wasn’t until January when the doubt crept in because it was just so long and there were a bunch of things happening that didn’t go as planned. … Other than that, if you ask me personally, I already knew that I would come back to play. It was more so not a matter of if, it was a matter of when.” Morris has played 17 minutes in each of his two appearances since returning, reclaiming his role as the team’s backup power forward.

Magic’s Jonathan Isaac To Miss Rest Of Season

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.