(REUTERS) - Washington Wizards centre Dwight Howard might not be ready to start the NBA season on time due to a lower back ailment.
The 32-year-old journeyman left New York to head back to Washington and receive a pain-fighting injection, Wizards coach Scott Brooks said on Monday (Oct 8).
"Hopefully early next week, he'll be back on the court and be ready to play,"Brooks said, according to the Washington Post.
"I don't know what that means for the first game, but we're just gonna take it day by day."
The Wizards open the season with an Oct 18 home game against the Miami Heat.
Howard has not appeared in any pre-season games due to his back problems, which flared up again on Saturday in a workout with coaches, according to the Post.
Brooks said that if Howard is unable to see any pre-season action, he probably will not play in the regular-season opener.
When he gets on the court for Washington, Howard will be playing for his fourth team in four seasons and the sixth team of his career.
Last season, Howard appeared in 81 of 82 National Basketball Association games, all starts, in his lone season with the Charlotte Hornets. He averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game.
Selected first overall in the 2004 draft by the Magic, Howard spent eight seasons in Orlando before he began bouncing around the NBA. He played one year for the Los Angeles Lakers, three for the Houston Rockets and one for his hometown Atlanta Hawks before landing in Charlotte.
Howard owns career averages of 17.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 1,035 games, all but one of them starts.