Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will attempt to treat the herniated disk in his lower back with rest and rehabilitation for the next 10-14 days and then be re-evaluated, a source familiar with Howard's condition told ESPN The Magazine.
Howard has been complaining of back pain since March, but it wasn't until he sought a second opinion by Los Angeles-based Dr. Robert Watkins on Friday, for what previously had been called back spasms, that he was diagnosed with a herniated disk. The disk is not fully herniated and non-operable treatment has been recommended, the source said, but "it's not 100 percent clear" if that treatment will work, and surgery remains a possibility.
There is no timetable for Howard's return.
Howard has missed four of the Magic's last six games, including the last two. Orlando went 1-3 in the games he missed.
With the playoffs scheduled to begin April 28, the reigning three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year's absence leaves the Magic all the more concerned. The Magic (34-25) are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race with seven games to play.
"Are you kidding me?" the Magic's Glen Davis responded, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "It's going to be tough without him next couple weeks. A herniated disk? That's crazy. Dwight isn't playing, everybody has to step up. Everybody."
The Magic are 1-4 without Howard this season. Before this season, he had missed only two games in his career because of injury; the rest were either because of illness or suspension.
Information from ESPN The Magazine senior NBA writers Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard, plus The Associated Press, was used in this report.