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

Apr 19, 2012, 9:45 PM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

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.

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