Dwight Howard will undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, ending his Orlando Magic season prematurely and ruling out the possibility of his participating in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Dan Fegan, Howard's agent, told ESPN's Ric Bucher on Thursday.
According to Bucher, Howard began complaining of back pain in early March, but played through it. An examination he received in Los Angeles last Friday revealed the herniated disc. The initial plan was "to rest and rehabilitate" the injury "for 10-14 days," says Bucher, and then determine the next course of action. But doctors have advised Howard to have the surgery now. The operation is set for Friday morning in L.A.
Howard absorbed what coach Stan Van Gundy termed "punches" in the lower back from Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood on March 30th, which aggravated Howard's back further. He sat out Orlando's next two games--both losses--before returning for two contests against the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. The injury worsened that night, but Howard played through the pain, posting 20 points, 22 rebounds, six assists, one steal, and two blocked shots in 44 minutes. He has sat out each game since then.
Glen Davis will continue to start at center for the balance of the season. Daniel Orton, the rookie from Kentucky, will serve as Davis' backup.
Howard's season ends with him posting 20.6 points, and NBA-best 14.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.1 blocks per game on 57.3 percent shooting from the field and a career-worst 49.1 percent shooting from the foul line.