When the Orlando Magic start training camp in late September, they’ll do so hoping Jonathan Isaac will be ready to return after being sidelined the last two years.
Isaac seemed optimistic that he’ll be ready.
“I feel great, I’m doing really good,” Isaac said during an interview with Crain & Company in April. “I know there was the whole hiccup with my right hamstring, but I feel great. I’m really looking forward to coming back next season and being able to play. I’m all good.”
Isaac hasn’t played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Aug. 2, 2020, in the NBA “bubble” at Disney World.
He had just recovered from a major left knee injury in January 2020 before tearing his ACL during the league’s restart.
Isaac missed the entire 2020-21 season because of the injury before being ruled out for the remainder of the 2021-22 season in mid-March, with the Magic saying at the time Isaac was running out of time to ramp up his rehab in anticipation of playing.
He’s played in 34 of 227 possible regular-season games since the start of the 2019-20 season.
“Our performance staff likes to have a long ramp-up [period] to return to actual play and that includes a long period of unrestricted access,” Jeff Weltman, the Magic’s president of basketball operations, said on March 15. “We’re just running out of time on the back end with less than a month left in the season to realistically expect that to happen now.”
Just after the team announced he’d miss the remainder of the season, Isaac suffered a “minor right hamstring injury” during his rehab session that required surgery.
Isaac, the sixth pick in the 2017 draft, completed the first season of a 4-year, $69.6 million extension he signed with the Magic in December 2020.
According to ESPN, there’s an Exhibit 3 (prior injury exclusion) clause in Isaac’s contract and because he didn’t play at least 25 games this past season, the guaranteed portion of his remaining contract has been reduced.
Isaac continues to rehab with the hopes of returning for the 2022-23 season in mid-October — nearly 26 months after tearing his ACL.
“The biggest thing they see is games played and that you haven’t played in so long, but they don’t know the work that goes in day in and day out,” Isaac said when asked about the rehab process. “The meticulous grind of it all. It just takes time. As much as I want it to go faster, it’s just part of the process and the plan. Looking forward to coming back next season.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.