Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard will undergo surgery to alleviate a muscle injury near his lower back and will be out for two to three months.
At the recommendation of a nerve specialist, Howard opted for surgery on the L4/L5 discs in his spine. He could resume physical activity in eight weeks, barring any setbacks.
The Wizards acquired Howard in July after he and the Brooklyn Nets arranged a contract buyout, and in October, he was diagnosed with a strained piriformis muscle.
The first overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Howard missed the first seven games this season with what the team called “gluteal soreness”, though the ailment apparently is worse than the original diagnosis.
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Howard, who turns 33 next month, saw his first action of the season on November 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, when he scored 20 points in a Washington loss.
However, he left in the first quarter of the Wizards’ November 18 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, saying he was hurting so badly that he had difficulties doing such simple things as sitting down and putting on his socks.
In nine games with the Wizards, Howard has averaged 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds, well below his career numbers of 17.4 and 12.6, respectively.
He has played at least 30 minutes on only three occasions this season. Howard’s career average is more than 34 minutes per game.