Wizards center Dwight Howard is visiting a nerve specialist in Los Angeles to get a second opinion on his strained lower piriformis, according to Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). Howard has missed the team’s past five games with the injury.
It’s unclear how much longer Howard will be sidelined, but the Wizards’ need for a strong frontcourt piece is clear. The team signed Howard to a two-year deal in free agency with hopes that he could replace Marcin Gortat, doing the dirty work such as setting screens and controlling the glass on both ends of the floor.
Howard, 32, has averaged 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in nine games this season, seeing a career-low 25.6 minutes per contest. The Wizards have primarily started Thomas Bryant in his absence, struggling to start the season with a consistent effort at 8-13.
Washington holds a 4-5 record with Howard active and a 4-8 record with him inactive this season. The team could look to flip contracts for younger pieces and future assets if it continues to struggle, especially if Howard is set to miss extended time.
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Kent Bazemore‘s move to the bench has paid dividends for the Hawks, writes K.L. Chouinard of Hawks.com. Bazemore is the longest-tenured player on the Hawks, entering his fifth season with the club this fall.
- Nikola Vucevic‘s All-Star caliber play could force the Magic to be in a tough position next summer, Matt John of Basketball Insiders writes. Despite most of the preseason excitement being placed on Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba, Vucevic has averaged an impressive 20.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. He’s set to become a free agent on July 1.
- Jeremy Lamb may also put his team in a tough spot next summer, with the Hornets guard putting up solid numbers in his first season as a starter with the club, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Lamb has averaged a career-high 15 points per game on the season.