Magic Rumors

Mo Bamba Had COVID-19, Led To Conditioning Issues

Magic center Mohamed Bamba contracted COVID-19 in June, which led to subsequent conditioning issues and a large reduction in playing time during the restart, Josh Robbins of The Athletic reports.

Bamba’s demotion to third-string center behind Nikola Vucevic and Khem Birch was one of the mysteries of the restart. The revelation by the No. 6 overall pick of the 2018 draft of his positive coronavirus test earlier this summer shed more light on the situation.

The illness led to fatigue and muscle soreness and temporarily removed his senses of smell and taste, according to Robbins. Bamba’s lack of playing time — he’s only made brief appearances in two of Orlando’s four seeding games — led to his decision to make his diagnosis public. He saw action in 60 games this season prior to the suspension of play.

“Part of me is reading the temperature of the room and just knowing that there are definitely going to be questions, and sometimes you’ve just got to address them with honesty,” Bamba said. “In this case, I think it’s best for them to have that context and have that understanding of what, exactly, is going on. I want people to know that I’m still working as hard as ever, if not even harder, and I’ll get through this.”

Due to his illness, Bamba was unable to go through individual workouts at the Magic’s practice facility prior to team’s arrival on the Disney campus. He also had a pair of false positive tests once he was on the campus, forcing him to go into additional quarantine and causing him to miss three days of practice.

Subsequently, he’s been relegated to spot duty due to conditioning issues. Bamba had been bulking up before the diagnosis, putting on 20 pounds. He’s had trouble carrying that extra weight without steady exercise.

He feels he’s ready to contribute if called upon.

“I was frustrated because I really felt ready to contribute like I was earlier in the year,” Bamba said. “But the medical staff is in the perfect place to protect me, so I have to follow their guidelines. It really kills me to be sitting there, but at the same time, it’s also really motivating. When you’re sitting out, you can see the game from different angles, different sights and sounds. Especially in the bubble, with no fans, you can really lock in on the game. But I know I have to stay focused, so whenever I’m called upon, I’m ready.”

Aaron Gordon (Hamstring) Doubtful For Friday

Magic forward Aaron Gordon, who left Wednesday’s game due to a left hamstring injury, doesn’t appear to have suffered a serious injury, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Sources tell Charania that tests on the hamstring showed no significant damage, and Gordon is expected to be re-evaluated in “several days.”

Although Gordon’s recovery timeline is unclear, it sounds like he’ll at least miss Friday’s game against Philadelphia. He has been listed as doubtful for that contest, according to the team, which tweets that the forward’s injury is being called a hamstring strain and he’ll be day-to-day after Friday. The Magic’s remaining seeding games are against Boston (Sunday), Brooklyn (Tuesday), and New Orleans (next Thursday).

One more Magic win or one more Wizards loss would secure Orlando a playoff berth, so the team will likely play it safe with Gordon in the hopes of having him back for the start of the postseason. Still, the Magic will be motivated to finish strong, since they’re currently a half-game back of the Nets for the No. 7 seed in the East.

MCW Suffers Tendon Strain In Foot, Doubtful For Wednesday

  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams, who left Tuesday’s game with a sore left foot, has been diagnosed with a tendon strain after undergoing an MRI, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Carter-Williams is doubtful to play on Wednesday vs. Toronto.

Weltman: Isaac's Torn ACL Unrelated To Previous Injury

Magic forward Jonathan Isaac suffered the first major injury during the league restart. However, the team insists that his torn left ACL wasn’t related to the left knee injury that had sidelined him since New Year’s Day, according to Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. The team’s president of basketball operations, Jeff Weltman, noted Isaac “cleared every hurdle” in his recovery from the knee injury.

Magic Announce Torn ACL For Jonathan Isaac

The Magic‘s fears were confirmed following an MRI on Jonathan Isaac‘s injured left knee, with the team announcing early on Monday morning that the young forward has suffered a torn ACL and will be sidelined indefinitely.

According to the press release issued by the Magic, Isaac’s return to the court will depend on how he responds to treatment and rehabilitation. However, given the nature of the injury, it’s safe to assume he won’t be back this summer, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to play at all next season.

Isaac was driving to the basket early in the fourth quarter of Orlando’s blowout win over the Kings on Sunday when his left knee buckled and he went down, clutching the knee in pain. He was eventually taken off the court on a wheel chair.

Isaac was on the verge of a breakout 2019/20 season, having averaged career highs in PPG (11.9), RPG (6.8), BPG (2.3), SPG (1.6), and a handful of other categories in the 34 games (28.8 MPG) he played. However, a severe left knee sprain and bone bruise sidelined him on January 1, and his summer comeback effort was abruptly halted on Sunday by another injury to that knee.

As Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes, in the short term, Isaac’s injury will limit the Magic’s playoff upside this summer. However, it’s the long-term impact that figures to be of greater concern to the franchise. The 22-year-old, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, is viewed as perhaps Orlando’s most obvious franchise cornerstone. Now there’s no chance he won’t be back on the court before his rookie contract expires in 2021.

The Magic figure to be patient with Isaac’s injury, which shouldn’t compromise his long-term future in Orlando, but it creates some major questions for the club to answer within the next year or two. For instance, an offseason extension for Isaac had appeared likely, but that will be trickier to negotiate now that he’ll be in the early stages of rehabbing his torn ACL when he becomes extension-eligible.

Additionally, the idea of shopping Isaac’s fellow power forward Aaron Gordon in potential trades this fall figures to look less appealing with Isaac expected to miss most or all of 2020/21, as Robbins observes.

While the Magic will have to eventually consider those issues, for now they’re focused on supporting Isaac.

“It was tough seeing it just knowing what he’s been through and knowing the work he put in to get back out here,” teammate Markelle Fultz said, per Robbins. “Immediately when he went down, I just started to pray for him. I’m hoping everything works out the best for him. He’s just such a good guy.”

“We all love him to death,” Terrence Ross added. “Just to see what he’s been going through these last couple of years, it’s tough on everybody. If anybody can handle this and push through and come out better, it’s J.I. So our prayers are with him, and we’re going to support him no matter what.”

After consecutive wins in their first two seeding games, the Magic are 32-35, placing them seventh in the Eastern Conference and putting them in good position to make the postseason without participating in a play-in tournament. They’ll have to clinch that spot without their best defensive player in the lineup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jonathan Isaac Suffers Non-Contact Knee Injury

Magic forward Jonathan Isaac left Sunday’s game against Sacramento after suffering an apparent non-contact knee injury, as Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel details.

Isaac was driving to the basket early in the fourth quarter of Orlando’s blowout win over the Kings when his left knee buckled and he went down, clutching the knee in pain. He was eventually taken off the court on a wheel chair.

A severe left knee sprain and bone bruise had sidelined Isaac from January 1 until the season went on hiatus in March, and there was uncertainty about whether he’d be ready to return this summer. After participating in practices and scrimmages in July, the 22-year-old was given the go-ahead to play in the Magic’s seeding games. However, it appears likely that his comeback effort has come to an early end.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Isaac is undergoing an MRI on his knee at the Orlando campus on Sunday night. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated adds (via Twitter) that the team has fears that Isaac suffered a torn ACL. While such an injury would likely sideline the former lottery pick for most or all of the 2020/21 season, there’s no formal diagnosis yet.

For his part, head coach Steve Clifford expressed hope that the injury wouldn’t end up being that serious, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press relays (via Twitter).

“I’m hopeful. It looked bad, obviously, but until you hear anything I’m just hopeful, that’s all,” Clifford said. “… It’s all conjecture and you just have to wait and find out.”

As a first-round pick in 2017, Isaac will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. It’s not clear if the two sides’ chances of getting something done this fall would be adversely affected if the knee injury turns out to be significant.

Iwundu Sidelined By Neck Stiffness

  • Wesley Iwundu cleared the league’s concussion protocol but didn’t play in the Magic’s first seeding game due to injury, the team’s PR department tweets. The swingman is dealing with neck stiffness and soreness, an issue that cropped up during a scrimmage on Saturday.
  • The Magic built a big lead against the depleted Nets and held on for a 128-118 victory on Friday. They’re eager to prove that they’re a playoff team during the eight seeding games at the Orlando campus, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “We’re going to play meaningful games here, which is what this is all about,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.

And-Ones: A. Gordon, OTAs, Draft, Avdija

With teams around the NBA preparing for the possibility that the 2020 offseason could be significantly truncated, one league executive tells Sean Deveney of Forbes that “there are already a lot of conversations” going on about possible offseason trades.

“If you want to get something done, you need to make sure you have the framework in place, that you know where you stand on everything because there just won’t be time to pull the trigger on these things,” the exec said.

With that in mind, Deveney spoke to a pair of executives about potential offseason trade candidates, including Magic forward Aaron Gordon. An Eastern Conference exec suggested that Gordon, who was shopped by Orlando before the February deadline, is “probably the most likely big name to be traded.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • As the NBA continues to work on a plan for allowing its bottom eight teams to conduct offseason workouts, Steve Popper of Newsday (Twitter links) hears that the league may approve of up to three weeks of OTAs for those clubs. In that scenario, there likely wouldn’t be a separate campus created for the bottom eight teams, as had been previously explored, Popper notes.
  • The NBA hopes to create a platform called “Combine HQ” that would help provide teams with profiles, stats, and interviews for the 105 draft-eligible prospects who received the most votes to be invited to the combine, a source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). It remains to be seen if such a tool would supplement an actual combine or be used in place of one.
  • Lottery prospect Deni Avdija has been named the Most Valuable Player of the Israeli Basketball League, making him the youngest player ever to win the award (Twitter link). The promising young forward currently ranks fifth overall on ESPN’s 2020 big board.

Bamba's Weight Up, Minutes Down

Magic guard Markelle Fultz is confident he’ll play effectively in the league restart. He told Josh Robbins of The Athletic and other media members that he’s actually feeling better than he did before the stoppage of play in March. “Right now I actually feel really good,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of getting those reps up in a game.”

Fultz arrived at the Orlando campus late due to a personal matter and didn’t start practicing until July 17, but played in the Magic’s scrimmage against the Nuggets on Monday.

  • The Magic have limited the minutes of big man Mohamed Bamba after he added 20 pounds to his frame during the shutdown, according to Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando coach Steve Clifford wants to make sure Bamba can play at a high level while carrying the extra weight but Bamba is irritated by the plan. “It is difficult to not be frustrated because at the end of the day, you want to go out there and be able to play,” he said.

Jonathan Isaac Set To Play In Monday's Scrimmage

Jonathan Isaac hasn’t played for the Magic in nearly seven months, having suffered a knee injury on January 1. However, it looks like his return is imminent — the team’s performance staff and front office officials have cleared Isaac to suit up for Orlando’s scrimmage on Monday, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

The Magic are being extra cautious with Isaac, one of the franchise’s young cornerstones, so he’ll still have to make it through today’s shootaround before being given the go-ahead for the club’s evening scrimmage vs. Denver. And even if he plays, he’ll face restrictions, Robbins notes.

“It’s been a very long time since he’s played,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said of Isaac. “As always, we will take a very cautious approach, and his playing time will be placed under a very limited minute restriction as he gets reacclimated to the NBA game.”

The Magic had originally been planning to be without Isaac this summer, but the young forward has exceeded expectations, writes Robbins. If he gets through Monday’s scrimmage with no issues, he would be well positioned to contribute in the team’s seeding games and potentially the playoffs as well, which would be a nice boost for Orlando. Isaac was one of the NBA’s best defenders during the first half of the season, with averages of 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals per game in 32 contests.