Where do they stand healthwise? – The Denver Post


With the 2022-23 NBA season approaching, the Orlando Sentinel is unveiling a five-part series of Orlando Magic storylines to keep an eye on heading into training camp, which kicks off on Sept. 27 at their new state-of-the-art AdventHealth Training Center. Part one addressed whether the Magic did enough to turn around their shooting woes.

Part Two: Health

The Magic’s season hasn’t started yet, but they already have injury-related questions.

Player-availability inquiries came frequently for president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and coach Jamahl Mosley in light of the Magic having the most games missed (449) because of injuries and the league’s health and safety protocols according to ManGamesLost.com, an injury analytics website.

They’ll face similar questions on Media Day, which takes place Monday, because of the uncertainty of Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac’s status.

Isaac hasn’t played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the bubble on Aug. 2, 2020, after the league returned from a four-month hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harris, who signed a 2-year, $26 million contract extension to return to Orlando before free agency officially started July 1, had arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 31 to perform a meniscectomy in his left knee after tearing cartilage.

Jalen Suggs also had surgery in late April to address a “slight” stress fracture in his right ankle, but he’s expected to fully participate in camp after progressing to on-court work in mid-June and playing in at least one pickup game during the offseason.

The most uncertainty surrounds Isaac.

Isaac’s missed the last two seasons because of the ACL injury.

He had a setback when he suffered a “minor right hamstring injury” that required surgery during his March 15 rehab session — a couple of hours after the team announced he’d miss the remainder of the 2021-22 season.

The Magic, like most NBA teams when it comes to injuries in recent years, have been hesitant to put a timeline on Isaac’s return throughout his rehab.

But there have been encouraging signs for his progress.

Isaac hasn’t been seen wearing a brace or sleeve over his left leg during his individual sessions in several months. He also posted an Instagram story of himself dunking in late August after mostly being seen by the media taking standstill jump shots before his hamstring injury.

“As for JI, he’s progressing,” Mosley said on the Magic’s official podcast, Pod Squad. “He’s following all of the protocols we have for him for rehab. He’s staying on that track day by day and they keep monitoring it to see how he continues to progress. No grand news on time of when [he’ll return], but he stays on the same path every day with his work ethic, habits and wanting to get back out there. Nobody’s working harder.”

There’s a greater grasp on Harris’ injury.

Daniel Kharrazi, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, told the Sentinel a meniscectomy is a “very common procedure,” adding it generally can take up to two months for an athlete to return.

“Think of the meniscus as a cushion between the bones and joints that gives you padding,” Kharrazi said. “When that tears, it creates inflammation and pain inside the knee. In professional players, if it creates symptoms, we recommend arthroscopically fixing it so it can go back to normal.”

A 6-8 week recovery period would give Harris a tentative return time frame for mid-to-late October.

Orlando plays seven games in the opening month, so Harris shouldn’t miss too much of the season — if he misses any. He’ll likely be sidelined or at least limited for most of camp.

Tony Wanich, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the HSS Sports Medicine Institute in New York, said getting back full range of motion and giving the knee enough time to adapt are emphasized for post-meniscectomy rehab.

“Any time you do any sort of knee/joint surgery, there’s a risk for scar tissue formation, which would lead to loss of motion and stiffness in the knee,” Wanich added. “Focusing on making sure they recover their range of motion is important. The other part is making sure the knee has enough time to adapt to this new situation. What I mean by that is you’ve got this knee where it’s lost a little bit of a cushion. Every time you do run and jump, there’s more impact that gets put on that bone. The body adapts to that, but this is why you’ve got to worry about rushing players back too quickly. If the bone doesn’t have enough time to adapt and adjust, that could delay the recovery because it’s putting too much impact on the bone.”

Harris and Isaac could have vital roles for the Magic in 2022-23.

The last time Isaac played, he was one of the league’s best defenders and was building a résumé to be considered elite on that end of the floor. That was more than 2½ years ago, but Isaac could still have the skillset to be a high-level defender.

Harris was one of the Magic’s most consistent 3-and-D contributors last season and could fit in several lineups Mosley decides to use. He had a bounce-back 2021-22, playing more games (61) and scoring more efficiently than he has in a few seasons.

How impactful they’ll be will depend on where they’re at healthwise to start camp.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.



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