Could Dwight Howard Injury Question Marks Keep D12 in Orlando Another Full Year?
According to ESPN's Ric Bucher, Howard underwent successful surgery on April 20 to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. The announcement came a little over a month after a shot from Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood sent Howard to the sidelines for a few games with back spasms and amid speculation that the center was "faking" the injury.
But ever since the word of the "successful" surgery broke, word has been mum on the 26-year-old's recovery. Check that, mum is too strong. Word has been radio silent.
The silence is especially puzzling because Howard would undoubtedly have to undergo a team physical by the team doctor of whichever city acquires his talents. And with Orlando desperately trying to end this prolonged saga, you would think the team would be more forthcoming with information.
This can only mean one of two things. Either Howard's back injury was so negligible that the "faking it" conspiracy theorists had it right or D12's recovery is going much slower than expected. And anyone with experience with the words back and surgery know that it's not the former.
Typically, a surgery of this nature would keep Howard out at least until NBA training camps open in October. But if you believe this direct message to Markee Randolph actually came from D12's Twitter account, that recovery could last much longer.
— Markee Randolph © (@MagicMarkee) July 16, 2012
If Howard can't even run yet, how can any team—especially the Los Angeles Lakers, who have dangled Andrew Bynum—part with a metric ton of assets without 100 percent assurance in Superman's health next season?
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Couple his injury with Howard's seeming unwillingness to sign an extension anywhere (per ESPN's Ric Bucher) and the once voracious trade market could be drying up for the league's best center.
And according to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, the team has already began exploring the thought of keeping Howard until the trade deadline.
The Orlando Magic have told rival executives that they might not trade Dwight Howard after all, according to league sources.
An executive who has had discussions with the Magic regarding Howard said Orlando only will trade the star center in a deal that is great for the franchise. The executive said this has been Orlando's stance for the past "week or so."
Another executive who has talked with Orlando said he thinks the Magic may start the season with Howard and wait until the February trade deadline to move him.
If Orlando decides to stubbornly keep Howard against all logical hope, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan runs the risk of allowing a massive D12 power play.
Considering the unpredictable nature of back injuries and Howard's desperate desire to leave Orlando, the center could easily avoid Magic headquarters altogether by stretching is L.A. rehab into the regular season.
That would put Orlando in the precarious position of trying to market an "injured" Howard or losing the center for nothing via free agency.
Where will Dwight Howard open the 2012-13 NBA season?
The only question is whether Howard is spiteful enough to pull such a stunt.
Considering Dwight's decision-making history, I'm sure he'll decide to sit out next season one day only to don a Magic uniform the next night.
Regardless, if the murky waters surrounding D12's back injury aren't cleared up soon there may be no takers left for Orlando to choose from.
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