Jonathan Isaac, who hasn’t played in an NBA game in over two years, is about to take a big step in his return to play process.
The Orlando Magic big man is being sent to the organization’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, for training, multiple people with knowledge of the situation told the Orlando Sentinel.
The time with Lakeland should give Isaac a chance to play 5-on-5 against other basketball players for the first time since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the NBA bubble on August 2, 2020.
Isaac told the Sentinel in early November that he played full court 5-on-5 with the coaching staff when the team was in Orlando for a few weeks, and that remained the case throughout the month.
When the team was on the road, Isaac said, “It’s really just one-on-one practice of me playing 1s, running around the court, just continuing to try and tire myself out.”
Isaac’s focus over the past few weeks after the long spell away from the pitch has been to get fit – a major step he needs to take before returning.
Isaac missed the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and hasn’t played since tearing the ACL — over 27 months since playing in an NBA game.
Considering how long he was sidelined prior to the ACL injury, Isaac hasn’t played basketball consistently for nearly three full years.
He had just recovered from a serious left knee injury in January 2020 before tearing a ligament during the league restart.
Going so long without constantly playing competitive basketball against other elite athletes makes it that much harder to get back into shape, even when physically fit.
Playing NBA games out of shape can make a player more susceptible to further injury. That’s why magic is careful when it comes to taking her.
“You take it for granted when you’re already fit and you’ve played so much,” Isaac said. “To finally get to the point where we’re like, ‘Yeah, we hit that marker, it’s all clear, the [doctor] says everything is fine; you’re good to start ramping up. I’m so excited for this, but now that I’m going through this and being exhausted everyday, I’m like, “Oh my God.” I forget how hard it is to get in shape. That’s what I focus on. I just can’t wait when it’s my time.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Prize to email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.