NBA return to normal schedule holds some significance for Magic

·2 min read

The NBA, as expected, is going back to its normal October-June calendar for the 2021-22 season.

The league informed teams via a memo Thursday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported this week that the NBA, the players’ union and the league’s TV network partners were working together to reinstate the annual schedule as soon as possible after the coronavirus pandemic had an impact on the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. After completing the 2019-20 season in October, the league shortened the current season to 72 games and started playing games in late December. There was some talk last year that the league might make the calendar bump a permanent move, but lower TV ratings for the 2020 playoffs at Disney World nixed that idea.

The key dates for 2021-22 will be:

Sept. 28: Training camp starts

Oct. 19: Regular season starts

April 16: Playoffs start

June 2: Finals Game 1

June 19: Finals Game 7

June 23: 2022 NBA Draft

The return to the normal calendar will be significant for the Orlando Magic for a few reasons. First, they await the return of point guard Markelle Fultz from reconstructive surgery on his left knee. While he is well into his rehabilitation and recovery, the timeline for a return remains unclear.

Typically, players take close to a year to return from reconstructive ACL surgery, although many variables contribute to the process. That time frame would set up Fultz for a potential return in late January, meaning he would miss roughly three months of the season under that scenario.

Orlando also is waiting for forward Jonathan Isaac to come back from his own ACL tear. His one-year anniversary from surgery will be in August, so his path to a return would appear to be in line with the start of training camp in late September.

Second, whoever the Magic hire as their next head coach will have a slightly smaller window to prepare for the new season.

And third, the NBA Summer League, scheduled for Aug. 8-17 in Las Vegas, will be an important set of days for the Magic, who are rebuilding their roster around young players. The Summer League, which was canceled last season, will give the Magic a chance to watch and evaluate their draft picks as they gain valuable playing experience ahead of their first training camp.

Whether the Magic decide to send any or all of their 2020-21 rookie corps of Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton and Chuma Okeke remains to be seen.

All 30 teams will participate in the Summer League, the league announced earlier this week.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Roy Parry at rparry@orlandosentinel.com. Follow on Twitter @osroyparry

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