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Jonathan Isaac’s injury could signal the end of Magic’s career


Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac underwent season-ending surgery this week. It could mean the end of his time with magic.

The Magic had high hopes for Isaac when they drafted him with the No. 6 pick in 2017. Injuries limited him to 27 games in his freshman year, but he became a starter in his second season and a defensive force in his third. Isaac was averaging 2.3 blocks and 1.6 steals in 2019-20 when he injured his left knee on New Years Day 2020. Had he played enough games to qualify, that would have would have placed fourth in blocks and 14th in interceptions for the season.

Isaac returned to the Magic during Bubbles season, but tore his ACL in the same knee in his second game. He missed all of the following two seasons before returning for 11 games this year.

Orlando signed Isaac to a four-year, $80 million deal even after the ACL injury. However, his contract was heavily dependent on playing time. $2.6 million each year was a bonus for playing 70 games or more, and the deal became partially guaranteed once he missed the 2021-22 season. . Now, next year’s deal is secured for just $7.6 million, and 2024-25 is completely unsecured.

So far, the team has only expressed support for Isaac and his difficult recovery.

This is truly terrible luck for Isaac, who will begin to rehabilitate the surgically repaired adductor muscle. While the Magic are certainly supportive of his recovery efforts, they may not support him financially after January 10, when next year’s deal would become fully guaranteed.

The Magic look set to compete, having added first pick Paolo Banchero to 2021 lottery picks Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner. They don’t have a single player over 24 signed this season, and Gary Harris and Markelle Fultz have unsecured deals next season. (Harris can be canceled for nothing before June 30; Fultz’s $17.4 million is only guaranteed for $2 million.)

This means Orlando has plenty of options to increase its projected ceiling space to over $50 million. They probably won’t drop all three unsecured deals, but they have the option to do so or use any of them in trade. While Isaac has the most collateral, he’s also clearly the most expendable, with Banchero and Wagner established at the forefront.

Isaac has shown flashes of being an impact player, but all of those flashes date back over three years now. The Magic are unlikely to still consider him a $17 million player. They might not see him as a Magic player at all.

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