Ankle, wrist injuries hampering Howard

DALLAS -- On the eve of the season opener, the Dallas Mavericks don't know when Josh Howard will be ready for game action.

Howard, who underwent operations on his left ankle and wrist on May 22, wasn't cleared for any contact work until Oct. 14. He has yet to complete a full practice and will not dress out for Tuesday's opener against the Washington Wizards.

While there is still some soreness in the wrist, the ankle is preventing Howard from playing. He had minor reconstructive surgery on the ankle, which had bothered him since his senior season at Wake Forest in 2002-03.

The Mavericks are exercising patience with Howard. The priority is getting him completely healthy, not rushing him back into the lineup.

"It could be awhile," coach Rick Carlisle said. "It could be weeks. I don't know. I don't know. We'll find a way without him, but we know we're better with him. When he comes back, we'll have to be ready to integrate him very quickly."

The Mavericks went 17-13 in games Howard missed last season. They were 33-19 with him in the lineup.

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at tim.macmahon@espn3.com.