Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard to have back surgery Friday; out for playoffs, Olympics


And it’s official — the Orlando Magic are the team everyone wants to face in the first round.

Dwight Howard will not be back for the playoffs because he is going to have surgery on the herniated disc in his back, his agent told Ric Bucher of ESPN.

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will undergo back surgery Friday morning in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disk, effectively ending his season and eliminating him from participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Howard’s agent said Thursday night…

Dan Fegan, Howard’s agent, said he hopes this development debunks any thoughts that Howard’s back problem was not serious and that he was utilizing it as an excuse not to play.

Howard had an epidural on his back and was going to receive treatment and be re-evaluated close to the playoffs, but there had been no progress and surgery was the next option.

“It hurts (emotionally),” Howard told ESPN the Magazine’s Chris Broussard. “That’s the first thing — it hurts. And then with people saying and thinking I’m quitting on my team. This is a real issue. I tried to play through it and it just made my back worse.”

Howard was a lock to make the Team USA for the Olympics and this opens up a space for a rim-protecting center that could now well go to Tyson Chandler. Mike Krzyzewski has some tough choices ahead there.

Howard should be able to return from this surgery for next season in Orlando.

Howard’s agent also denied that the star center had called the team owner and said he would never play again for coach Stan Van Gundy.

After his recovery this summer all the drama around the team will still be there waiting for him in Orlando next fall — he almost certainly will have a new coach (nobody expects Van Gundy back now) but will the Magic bring in enough talent to get Howard to sign a contract extension. It’s hard to see how they will and next year could be another year of a soap opera surrounding Orlando.

But that all now has to wait on back surgery for Howard.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.

Report: Pelicans signing Greg Smith

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The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.

Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.

Enter Greg Smith.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.

But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.

Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.