Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will undergo season-ending back surgery.
Howard will fly to Los Angeles on Friday morning and have the procedure Saturday to repair a herniated disk.
The announcement that Howard will undergo surgery came hours after an Orlando radio station reported that the star center told Magic owner Rich DeVos that he won’t play for coach Stan Van Gundy anymore.
“This is a real issue,” Howard told ESPN, saying it hurts to hear people accuse him of quitting on the team. “I tried to play through it and it just made my back worse.”
Howard said the procedure involves a one-inch decision and he will be able to start rehabilitation immediately. He said doctors told him he would be ready for full contact in four months.
The 26-year-old Howard has had a turbulent season in which he demanded a trade before finally relenting and agreeing to sign a waiver on his opt-out clause to keep him with the Magic through next season.