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Wizards head coach Scott Brooks told Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington that Howard woke up with pain in his back Monday, and the team decided to send him back to Washington for a pain relief injection:
Chris Miller 🎥🎙🏀 @cmillsnbcs
Scott Brooks on the news regarding Dwight Howard’s latest setback. He was sent back to D.C. to receive a pain injection in his back. #DCFamily #WizKnicks https://t.co/Hm8yb0duXN
Howard has missed the entire preseason, but Brooks expressed hope that he’ll be back on the court and ready to play by “early next week.”
Washington will open its 2018-19 regular-season slate against the Miami Heat on Oct. 18.
The 32-year-old veteran is set to enter his first season with the Wizards after spending 2017-18 with the Charlotte Hornets.
In his one campaign with Charlotte, Howard enjoyed a resurgent year with averages of 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets during the offseason despite that, and following a buyout, he signed a two-year deal with the Wiz.
Howard spent 2016-17 with the Atlanta Hawks and the previous three seasons with the Houston Rockets. Those years were a struggle both in terms of health and a drop in production compared to what he grew accustomed to during an eight-year stint with the Orlando Magic to start his career.
Howard has dealt with nagging injuries often in recent years, and he entered 2017-18 having missed at least eight games in four consecutive seasons. He turned things around on that front last season by appearing in all but one game.
The eight-time All-Star is no longer a go-to player like he was with the Magic, but an absence of any length figures to hurt the Wizards from a rebounding perspective at the least.
Washington doesn’t have another player of Howard’s caliber at center, but veteran Ian Mahinmi is experienced and capable of taking on a greater role during Howard’s potential absence.
Much of the Wizards’ high-end talent resides in the backcourt, so John Wall and Bradley Beal will be tasked with performing at an even higher level for as long as Howard is on the shelf.