Howard has missed three games this season because of back problems. The other two games ended in Magic losses to the Pistons and Denver Nuggets.
Orlando cannot afford to lose Howard for any significant amount of time as they are in a heated battled with the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference. The Magic are currently sixth in the East, but are only one half game back of the fifth seed and one game out for the fourth.
Howard had a difficult time sitting down during timeouts in the fourth quarter of Orlando’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night. The timetable for his return to the lineup is unknown but he will most likely miss the next couple games to rest his back.
The All-Star center has been making headlines this past week for allegedly asking the Magic to fire head coach Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy went public with the issue while Howard has since denied ever requesting the removal of the coach. Orlando’s general manager Otis Smith has since stated Howard never came to him about anyone getting fired.
“He never asked me; I didn’t have that knowledge,” Smith said, according to ESPN.com. “If he did ask he’s wrong, and for Stan to address it in public, that is wrong. ”
Smith went on to say Van Gundy will be the coach for the rest of the season but the jury is still out on if he will return to lead the team next year.
In 54 games this season, Howard is averaging 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while converting 57.3 percent of his shots from the field.