Down Nearly two years, Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac faced the same question: when will he be back from the hiatus for the past two seasons?

The answer hasn’t changed much over the past year, but he feels closer to returning to the floor than at any other point in the rehabilitation process, saying that “his” legs are the strongest they’ve ever been. “

“I want it sooner than later” Isaac said Orlando Sentinel during the band’s media day on Monday. “I feel it will come sooner rather than later. We don’t announce anything exactly when it will be, but I know it will be soon.

Isaac answered “100%” when asked by Sentinel if he was sure he knew he would be back this season.

He was one of the few Magic players whose status was unknown on Monday along with Gary Harriswho had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late August after meniscus tearand Markelle Fultz, who broke his big left toe in mid-September.

Harris and Fultz will be sidelined to training camp, Magic CEO Jeff Weltman told reporters, and the dates for their return have not been released.

They were expected to be absent as they had recently been injured.

Isaac’s status was a mystery.

He left the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and has not played since an anterior cruciate ligament rupture in his left knee in an NBA bubble on August 2, 2020 – over 25 months ago.

Isaac’s lonely defeat came in mid-March, when he was suffering from … right hamstring injury requiring surgery – which Isaac called an “upgrade,” asking questions about why the journey back to the dance floor took as long as it took and how he was not frustrated.

“It’s a process,” Isaac told the Ranger. “We have a timetable at the end of the day. Frustrated by me won’t make it any faster. I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I know I will be back, I know I will play this season. I’m sticking to that.

Isaac’s job on the court is mostly sprinting, jumping, body contact and one-on-one play with the coaches.

Weltman said Isaac will not be participating in the live-action group or the fivev5 exercise when training camp kicks off Tuesday – a key step for a player looking to return from an injury.

“Jonathan will be integrated slowly,” Weltman said. “He will not be taking part in many of the full team live training components. I hate to sound like a broken record. I know it’s been a long process. We hope to get him back this season.

“It’s a very slow, tedious process. Of course, I don’t want to put a schedule on it because it’s just open. We just don’t know. Part of it is that he has to put in work, and when he gets to the next level he’ll go up. This is the focus of our executive team, the medical staff and most importantly, this is what Jonathan is doing as he progresses. “

Isaac enters the second year of the $ 69.6 million 4-year contract he signed with Orlando in December 2020 – four months after the ACL injury.

As he did not play last season, his salaries of $ 17.4 million for the 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons have been partially or not guaranteed due to a clause in his contract in Appendix 3 (Prior Injury Exclusion). according to ESPN.

It has $ 16 million guaranteed for 2022-23 (fully guaranteed $ 17.4 million if in stock after January 10, 2023), $ 7.4 million for 2023-24 (fully guaranteed $ 17.4 million USD after January 10, 2024) and there is no compensation guarantee for 2024-25 (fully guaranteed $ 17.4 million if listed after January 10, 2025).

Isaac appreciated Magic’s patience during the rehabilitation process.

“They were great,” said Isaac. “Even they don’t pressure me. Honestly, I am putting the pressure on them. I want to get it right and I don’t want any more injuries. I want to take my time and let this happen and get back to playing basketball.

Isaac said he fully recovered from the left knee and right hamstring treatments, while admitting that he is not 100% from the point of view of being in game form and playing at game speed where he will focus on moving forward.

“There are no more obstacles we have to overcome,” Isaac said. “We’ve hit these different points of sprint work, jump work, body contact work, and now it’s time to put it all together the way we work, where it’s like, ‘You protect it Boy, you are offended here and you beat it visitor. Can we put it all together and make it comfortable enough to let you go there?

“If that’s on me, I feel comfortable now. But they’ll give me a timeline and they’ll just take one day at a time. “

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

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