Jonathan Isaac

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.

Southeast Notes: Morris, McMillan, Hunter, Magic

Heat power forward Markieff Morris, who has been sidelined since suffering a neck injury thanks to a hard foul from Nuggets center Nikola Jokic on November 8, will have to fight to gain back rotational time he has lost, opines writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Winderman notes that Miami opted to bring in Morris as the first backup power forward behind starter P.J. Tucker in the 10 games this season when Morris was healthy, but that the team may consider small-ball lineups with versatile reserve wings Caleb Martin or Max Strus playing nominal power forward minutes for the Heat.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan reflected on his time in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and away from his players, per Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McMillan recently cleared protocols and has returned to coaching the team. “I’ve never had to go through anything like that,” McMillan said. “To coach during this time with COVID, some of my guys, it’s been close to a month since I’ve seen them.” The Hawks, who had 13 players in the protocols at one point in late December, are currently 17-22, the No. 12 seed in the East.
  • Hawks small forward De’Andre Hunter is nearing his return to the team, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports that Hunter played in a full five-on-five team practice today. Trainers must green-light Hunter’s return to game action, which could happen as soon as tomorrow against the Heat, per head coach Nate McMillan. Hunter underwent surgery on his right wrist in mid-November. In 11 contests with Atlanta this season, he averaged 10.8 PPG on .450/.395/.400 shooting, along with 2.7 RPG and 0.6 SPG.
  • Young Magic point guards Jalen Suggs and Markelle Fultz have resumed practicing with the team, according to Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. Power forward Jonathan Isaac, who has been absent since tearing his ACL in August 2020, is inching towards a return of his own, though Suggs and Fultz appear closer to rejoining their Orlando teammates on the hardwood. Fultz tore his left ACL early in the 2020/21 NBA season and has been absent ever since. Suggs continues to wear a splint for the fractured thumb on his right hand. Exact return timelines for Suggs and Fultz have not been determined.

Injury Notes: Fultz, Isaac, Embiid, Harris, Iguodala, Warren

Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac are progressing towards a return to the court for the Magic, writes Dan Savage on the team’s website.

Isaac initially injured his knee in January of 2020, missed several months, and then returned during the Orlando bubble before suffering a torn ACL in August of 2020. Fultz also sustained a torn left ACL, in January of 2021, eight games into last season.

Although Fultz’ injury occurred five months later, it appears he’s closer to making his season debut. President Jeff Weltman says the point guard has begun practicing with the team’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic.

As they have their occasional checkups with doctors, and they have imaging, I can just tell you they’re both moving forward and they’re doing great,” Weltman explained. “I can tell you that Markelle, we just sent him down this week to start practicing with Lakeland because they’ll have more live-action situations than we’ll have in the middle of an NBA season. So, he’s starting to ramp up to that phase where he’s actually starting to get 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.”

Fultz says he feels good and is eager to return to the NBA court.

I’m very excited with where I am at and where I am going,” he explained. “It’s the next step in the process. When I first got injured, it was all about steps. Knowing it’s going to be a long journey but taking it one step at a time. Right now, I’m in the process of getting back into things, bumping, and getting up and down. Getting my conditioning right. Like I said, I feel really good.”

Weltman says Isaac is working to gain strength in his entire body, not just rehab his knee, and has improved his shot during his long hiatus.

It’s everything. There’s a right way to do this and the most important thing for Jonathan is not just that we address the injury, but his whole body,” Weltman said. “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 strengthened 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.”

Neither player has a timetable for return. There are some more interesting quotes in the article for Magic fans curious about how the two players are doing.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Joel Embiid (COVID recovery) and Tobias Harris (hip) are both questionable for the Sixers‘ home game tomorrow against Minnesota, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter).
  • Andre Iguodala is traveling with the Warriors on their road trip, but he’s not expected to play against the Clippers (Sunday) or Suns (Tuesday), according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iguodala is still dealing with swelling around his right knee, although it’s not considered serious.
  • T.J. Warren has been doing some light court work and shooting with the Pacers recently, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. There should be another update on his status next Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Eastern Notes: Rose, Magic Injuries, Jackson, Markkanen

Derrick Rose considered retirement a few years ago due to persistent knee injuries, but he doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “Hopefully, I’m going to try to Tom Brady this thing, play as long as possible, make sure I really take care of my body,” he said. “And if I’m playing play with joy. I don’t have to score 30 points a night anymore to affect the game.” Rose re-signed with the Knicks on a three-year deal this summer.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic fans are irritated by the team’s lack of transparency regarding injury updates on Markelle FultzJonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke, Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes. Fultz and Isaac are still rehabbing from knee injuries, while Okeke has been out since training camp with a bone bruise in his hip. No timetable has been announced for any of those players.
  • Rookie forward Isaiah Jackson will be “out for a while,” according to Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, due to a hamstring injury, David Woods of The Indianapolis Star reports. The 22nd pick of the draft was injured during the Pacers’ game on Wednesday. “He’s walking in a brace, so that’s good good news, compared to the severity that there could have been,” Carlisle said.
  • Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff credits Lauri Markkanen with making the team’s jumbo lineup effective, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic writes. Markkanen has played small forward in lineups with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen on the floor. “The biggest shoutout has to go to Lauri Markkanen,” Bickerstaff said of the former Bulls forward. “To me, he’s the reason why it works. His willingness to do that, and again, sacrifice some comfort. He’s the reason why we’ve been able to get away with it so far and why it’s been able to work.”