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Dwight Howard suffers setback with back rehab, could miss start of season

Dwight Howard — the guy the Wizards brought in to be an upgrade over Marcin Gortat, who had chemistry issues with John Wall — has yet to participate in training camp due to back problems. Something that has been chronic for him since Howard was a Laker.

Which is why the word “setback” is ominous. From Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington.

While Brooks is trying to be optimistic, it’s hard to imagine the Wizards racing Howard back for the first game, or a few games, after he missed all of training camp with the team. Howard had been more durable the past few seasons, missing 10 games or fewer each of the last three, but this season is getting off to a rough start.

If Howard is out, Ian Mahinmi will start. There also could be some small ball lineups with Markieff Morris at the five.

Howard’s decline from the best center in the game — perennial MVP candidate, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and eight times All-NBA — to NBA vagabond (five teams in six seasons) has been fast. It’s such a fall that even HBO’s John Oliver is taking digs at him.

Part of it is health — Howard was never the same after the first back surgery. Also, the NBA evolved in how big men are used, and while Howard had the skill set to evolve with it (as a defensive force and a tremendous pick-and-roll big) he didn’t want to. He wanted to play like Shaq and Kareem in a world with zone defenses where post-up opportunities in the old-school back-them-down sense are limited. For most of his career, Howard has been a more efficient pick-and-roll player than he is on post-ups but that’s not how he wanted to play.

Now, Howard just wants to play. Which means he needs to get healthy, and that could take some time.