Dwight Howard will continue to rehabilitate his back in Los Angeles throughout the NBA Playoffs, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Tuesday, meaning the six-time All-Star center will not join the team for its postseason run, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. Schmitz wonders why Howard can't simply rehab his back in Orlando, while Josh Robbins, Schmitz's Sentinel colleague, reports the team and "Howard's camp" mutually agreed it'd be "impractical" for the center to fly back-and-forth from Los Angeles to Orlando during the playoffs.
Howard underwent season-ending surgery to fix a herniated disc in his back on Saturday in L.A. Some fans and observers will no doubt allow this news to fuel speculation that Howard has quit on the Magic and Van Gundy, though numerous news outlets debunked a Thursday report that he called team owner Rich DeVos two Fridays ago to tell him he would no longer play for Van Gundy.
Orlando is 3-5 in the eight games Howard's missed since shutting down for good. Unless it loses its two remaining games and the New York Knicks win both of theirs, Orlando will open the playoffs as the East's sixth seed against the third-seeded Indiana Pacers, which it defeated three times in four tries earlier in the season.