Dwight Howard Received Injection for Back Injury; May Miss Wizards Opener
Washington Wizards' Dwight Howard speaks to the media during an NBA basketball media day, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Washington. Howard could miss start of Wizards camp with bad back. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Nick Wass/Associated Press

Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard‘s status for the start of the regular season is in question after he suffered a setback in relation to his back injury.

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:

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.

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