The Washington Wizards almost made it through the summer to begin training camp free of injuries, but sure enough, media day on Monday was highlighted by the news that starting center Dwight Howard has a sore back and will be limited, at least for the first few days of practice.
Howard, 32, has a history of back issues, though this one shouldn't be lumped in with the rest of them, at least not yet. Howard and the Wizards are describing the issue as minor and not the result of something that happened on the court.
"I've been having to do a lot of traveling with shoe companies and stuff like that in China. Just from training, traveling. You know, airplanes weren't made for tall people," Howard said.
"It kinda sucks flying 15 hours curled up in the fetal position. It's just a minor setback, but it shouldn't take that long for me to get back on the court. I've been feeling great all summer."
Head coach Scott Brooks suggested Howard could miss the team's first practice on Tuesday. The team's first preseason game is next Monday, Oct. 1.
Brooks, however, spoke of Howard's injury more in the context of their first regular season game on Oct. 18.
"We're in no rush. With training camp, you have three weeks to get ready for the first game," Brooks said.
Despite having a detailed injury history, Howard has been quite durable in recent years. He has played at least 71 games in three straight seasons. Last year with the Hornets, he missed only one game.
If Howard is sidelined for any of the Wizards' preseason games, Brooks said the options to replace him in the starting lineup start with Ian Mahinmi, their backup center. He also mentioned Jason Smith and the possibility that power forward Markieff Morris could slide over to the five-spot in a small-ball set.
The Wizards are in good shape health-wise outside of Howard. Otto Porter, Jr., who had a procedure on the outside of his left leg at the end of last season, is 100 percent. John Wall, who missed 41 games last year due to knee injuries, has no restrictions.
Howard signed a free agent deal to join the Wizards in July and represents their biggest offseason acquisition. They may just have to wait a few more days to get him into the mix.
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