Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard had season-ending back surgery to repair a herniated disk on Friday. This is a sad end to a season that was full of drama and shadiness for the Magic and Howard. You never want to see anyone get injured and Howard is definitely one of the best players in the NBA. Any hope of the Magic competing for a title this year goes away with Howard going down. With this injury, there will be a lot of questions going forward. It’s almost a forgone conclusion that the Magic will have an early exit from the upcoming NBA playoffs. So it makes you wonder one, how will this team look when Howard returns next season and two, if Howard himself will even be a Magic member beyond next season if he even stays that long. I think this will be a very busy off-season for the Magic. I’m pretty sure that head coach Stan Van Gundy will not return next season, and all the drama concerning Howard’s status with the team will be a burning question once again leading up to the trade deadline next March. All Howard did was agree to pick up the option for next season, ensuring that he will be under contract with the team until the summer of 2013. After that he is an unrestricted free agent and can sign with anyone he wants. We all saw what happened this year with all those trade talks and Howard’s constant back and forth on whether or not he wanted to be with the Magic. Unless something big happens, we will see a lot of the same next year. You also wonder what will Magic management do to try to entice Howard to stay in Orlando. Will they try to make a push for future free agent point guard Deron Williams? Will they try to bring in more athleticism to give them more explosiveness? Whatever the Magic decide to do, there’s no reason to believe that this current roster will intact. Of course this all centers around what Howard wants to do. Management might say they want to go ahead and trade him because they don’t want to risk losing Howard to free agency and get nothing in return. It’s obvious that the Magic want him to stay so they can have someone to build around, but it’s hard to do that when the guy you want to build around doesn’t even know from day-to-day what he wants. Only time will tell what will happen, but in my opinion it looks like you will see a lot of the same next year with Howard. The man obviously doesn’t want to commit to the Magic long term. As far as the back injury goes, this is something that had to be taken care of with surgery. Rehab isn’t going to repair a herniated disk. I know that Howard has taken a lot of criticism for checking out at times, but I don’t think he just decided to hold off on back surgery until now so he could screw the team over just in time for the playoffs. I hope he can come back and be the Dwight Howard we’re used to seeing on the court. Maybe while he’s recovering from the back surgery, he can take the time to think about things and mature a little bit. The back injury seems to be a fitting end to a drama filled season for Howard, and more drama will follow unless changes are made with either Howard or the Magic.

By Charles Taylor

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