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Josh Howard making progress with knee recovery

It got lost in John Wall's preseason debut, Gilbert Arenas's post-game comments, and the Wizards' reunion with former teammates Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, but Josh Howard quietly made his return to Dallas on Tuesday. Sidelined while recovering from his left knee surgery, Howard didn't get any special recognition at American Airlines Center, but one fan shouted before the game toward the Wizards bench, "I still love you, Josh!"


I'm a little ahead of schedule. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Howard spent 6 ½ seasons with the Mavericks, where he became an all-star and reached the 2006 NBA Finals, before he was dealt to Washington at the trade deadline. His situation in Dallas had soured toward the end because of some injuries and off-the-court missteps. Some of his former Mavericks teammates greeted him with hugs and laughter, but Howard played down being back, saying, "I've been here. It's nothing new."

His reaction will likely be different when the Wizards play their first regular season game in Dallas on Jan. 31. But Howard is more focused on coming back to any court, anywhere, and he is already making considerable progress nearly seven months since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against Chicago on Feb. 22. He had surgery a few weeks later.

Howard has moving around really well the past week. He has been running, jumping, shooting and participating in skeleton offensive and defensive drills. And, before the Wizards beat Dallas, 97-94, Howard was warming up with his teammates, taking jumpers, making cuts and even banging down low, defending players as they attempted moves in the post. "I've always been dedicated. I knew it was a challenge coming in, especially after having ankle and wrist surgery the year before. I knew I had to dedicate myself to this next summer," he said.

His improvement has been such a revelation that the Wizards may soon see him on the floor in the next few weeks. "If you watch him on the floor doing skeleton runs, you'd think that he could play that night. He's pretty advanced. A lot more advanced than what we thought, but we're going to take our time," Coach Flip Saunders said. "I would anticipate that he'll probably facilitate things in the next two or three weeks. We'll kind of take our time and see where we are at. We're not going to push him back, but we're not going to push him to get there. We're going to make sure he's back close to 100 percent."

When asked if he was a few weeks ago, Howard smiled and said, "No comment."

He then explained that he has to be patient. "I would love to be a couple weeks away," he said. "But the extent of my injury -- I tore my meniscus, that was a big part of the recovery time -- that slowed things down. I've been kind of ahead of schedule all summer, but now it's up to my body and how I feel."

Howard developed a reputation for being a hard worker in Dallas, but sometimes he pushed himself too hard to come back, which led to him suffering other injuries. Saunders said the Wizards aren't in a hurry. "Usually when you come back too quick, you hurt something else because another part of your body is compensating to make up for that. It's going to take time to see where he's at."

Howard said the time he spent away from basketball gave him some perspective. "It was tough, gave me time to reflect and see what I needed to do to get better, what I need to do to be a leader on this team and thinking about life."

He added that with No. 1 overall pick John Wall and Gilbert Arenas returning, the Wizards would surprise people this season. "I think we're going to prove a lot of people wrong, playoffs or not. A lot of people don't expect us to do a lot. That's what I always strive off of, and that's to prove people wrong. And I know these guys do as well.''

By Michael Lee  | October 7, 2010; 1:38 PM ET
Categories:  Josh Howard  
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Next: John Wall, Wizards bounce back from rough first half to beat Cleveland

Comments

I hope Josh can come back at full strength. I really like his game. As much as I love Caron, healthy, I like Josh's game much better.

If he can get back to 100% he will be a major player in determining where this team is headed.

Get well soon Josh!

Posted by: kevenjones | October 7, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

channelsurfing.net will have the game online tonight fellas

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 7, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

for all my NY haters,
My man played 15 mins, about 6 in the first half and close to 9 in the 4th Q. I'm not surprised that a streaky shooter like NY wouldn't hit after about 3 quarters on the pine. 1-7 is awful though. I dunno if he was horrible in every other aspect of the game though, but i did notice him running off screens and spotting up like Flip suggested last offseason. i'd like to see him work to find a comfortable shot a little more until he gets in the flow of the game. he's a good 3pt shooter, but 20+ft jumpers off curls after you've spent the last 35+minutes on the bench aren't as easy as when you're fresh out of warmups. I'll reserve judgement til the end of the preseason, but he's on my Watch List.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 7, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

It aint lookn good for NY. He should easily be starting on this team. I dont know what his problem is but he is not connecting the dots. I mean looks like the same old goofy, happy go lucky Nick to me.

I had really high hopes for NY. I thought he would be an all-star by now..oh well shows you how much I know..

Posted by: kevenjones | October 7, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I dunno if he looked the same the other night, but i know he didn't play well. So much of his game is about hitting his shots. He didn't play horrible defense, but he didn't stand out either. You say he should be starting right now and i would/will argue that. He's a true 2 guard, which is currently the spot occupied by 9mm. You could play him out of position at the 3, but if you're going to play a guard out of position, why wouldn't you play the best available guard.KH is without a doubt our best available guard after JWOWW and 9 Milly. If you talk about size and defending, there will be nights where size matters (lol) and there will be others where the players overall ability to defend will mitigate size issues. Right now I'd say Kirk is the better overall defender, so I'd rather play him out of position than Nick. I hope NY can hit when he's open tonight. He had a lot of clean looks but was just off. he's a streaky shooter and couldn't get warm after seeing his first action in the first and his next call up in the 4th. but excuses aren't gonna cut it and he's got to score to be effective in his role off the bench. Maybe he can take a dribble or two, but stay in control. i just think this catch and shoot experiment failed last year with CB and will fail with NY. He's a 6'7" scorer, let him create a lil bit. Overall a bad 1st preseason game for him, hopefully he can pick it up.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 7, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"......It aint lookn good for NY. He should easily be starting on this team. I dont know what his problem is but he is not connecting the dots. I mean looks like the same old goofy, happy go lucky Nick to me......."

I was afraid he would revert with his alter-ego ARENAS in the house. Somebody other than GIL better become his idol, or his entire career will be a wasted one.

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 7, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I agree Kirk is much better than NY..But there is no reason in the world why that should be the case..

But Kirk is just a true, hard working, toughnose professional.

Nick is bigger and faster, but just doesn't have the basketball IQ or toughness that Kirk has...oh well

BTW I always respected (and hated KH) but now i'm happy he is a Wizard.

Posted by: kevenjones | October 7, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Man, it would be fantastic if Leonsis changed the name back to Bullets. He'd make a ton of money from Bullets merchandise.

Posted by: coparker5 | October 7, 2010 3:17 PM

Ted is a very savvy man. Stating that changing the name back was being considered is actually the sign he has decided to change the name back. Everything you hear about it from today forward is just marketing to maximize the revenue bump when the name is changed back.

And there aint nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Re: Josh Howard. Good to see him making good progress, hopefully he'll make it back to the court, fully healthy, sooner rather than later. I do like that they're not trying to rush him. We've been down that road. Certainly the lineup looks much better with him in it.

Re: Nick Young. I don't know if I'm a pure NY hater, I don't think so, but I definitely am a big critic. My problem with him is that he has the size and athletic ability to have an all around game and he...just doesn't. Divi3 likes to point out that KH is among the worst scoring SGs in the league. I think there are reasons for that, but regardless, it's a reasonable criticism. What is more confounding to me is that NY is among the worst rebounding SGs. And among the worst with assists. So he's put himself in a box where he really only provides one thing at a potentially high level...scoring. So if he's not shooting well, he forces the coach's hand about keeping him in there.

Against Dallas NY went 1-7, with 1 rb, and 5 pfs in 15mins. Ugh. If he wants to play a bigger role, he's got to find other ways to contribute that separate him from the others and that doesn't rely on his shot dropping.

Posted by: ts35 | October 7, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@lil

You know I talk up NY as much as anybody...but he looked completely lost the other night, that was the bigger issue than missing the shots. Of course, if he'd gone 5-7 I'd probably be screaming he should start. But as ts35 mentioned, when he's shot isnt falling it becomes glaringly obvious he's unsure of himself. The good is he got plenty of open looks through running Flip's offense. The bad is he still doesnt rebound or pass, and for some reason refuses to try and get to the rack. Is there another player in the entire league who could potentially dunk on DHoward yet never attacks the rim? Dont understand that

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

as for Josh Howard's rehab....if he's back like Wes Welker came back from the same surgery, make no mistake, Zards are in the thick of the 7th or 8th seed. JHoward is not a guy who can hold down 3, he's a guy that's an elite SF defensively and a recent all-star. His healthy return instantly makes SF a position of strength rather than uncertainty/weakness as it is now.

JW
Gil/KH
JH
AB
JM

That lineup will hang with any starting 5 in the league, make no mistake*


*3 beers at lunch today

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

RE: Nick Young

Have you guys seen Hollinger's scouting report for the Wiz on ESPN? He crushes NY. Based on his analysis, NY is one of the worst rebounding and assist 2 guards in the league. Rightfully, he is baffled by the rebounding stat given NY's height and athleticsm. My problem with Nick is that he settles for most of his shots. Rarely does he put pressure on the Defense by penetrating and pulling up or taking it all the way to the hoop.

On the bright side, it has been reported that he was really good in camp, so it is possible that Tuesday was an anamoly. We'll see tonight.

Posted by: ZardsFan1 | October 7, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

channelsurfing.net will have the game online tonight fellas

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 7, 2010 2:05 PM

thanks man, justin.tv should have it was well

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Wiz are going to showcase Arenas early in the year to generate some trade interest. If he plays well and doesn't get in trouble off the court, Grunfeld will hopefylly be able to trade him by the end of December. He's cleary got one foot out the door as indicated by his comments after the first preseason game and would like a fresh start elsewhere. I could see him being traded to Orlando for JJ Reddick or Mikael Petrus if they were able to take on his salary.

NY will get no PT at all once JH is back in the lineup. Flip has made it pretty clear that Thornton will start at the 3 at the beginning of the season, but I'd expect Howard to win back the job once he's fully healthy (or close to it) and has played 10-15 games. NY won't get any time at the 3 as he's a weak defender and poor rebounder. His only chance of playing is if Arenas gets hurt or traded.

Posted by: wizfan89 | October 7, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Based on his analysis, NY is one of the worst rebounding and assist 2 guards in the league.
Posted by: ZardsFan1

Sadly, if you look at the Rbs/48mins numbers, he's also worse than most PGs.

He has a window until Howard is healthy to prove he has some worth. So far, to me, in his time as a Wizard, Thornton hasn't distinguished himself that much either.

Posted by: ts35 | October 7, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

That lineup will hang with any starting 5 in the league, make no mistake*

*3 beers at lunch today

Posted by: divi3

LOL!

Posted by: ts35 | October 7, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

The good is he got plenty of open looks through running Flip's offense. The bad is he still doesnt rebound or pass, and for some reason refuses to try and get to the rack. Is there another player in the entire league who could potentially dunk on DHoward yet never attacks the rim? Dont understand that

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I feel yall all the way. My thing about the passing and assists is that he's the guy running off screens and curls, sometimes i suppose he could look for someone else slipping off the screen to the rim, but that's not his role, to create scoring opportunities for other players. Furthermore it's not a part of his game to be a natural playmaker.

I have no answer about his rebounding other than he's usually around the perimeter ( not really an excuse, even i admit he's an awful rebounder). But folks wanna have it both ways with his scoring. I remember a while back when everyone hated NY's pet move (the between the legs step back off the bounce). Flip hated it too and began his campaign to limit NY's ball handling;hence the catching and shooting vs. creating off the dribble. It's tough and this is by no means an excuse for NY but I'd ask some of yall, do you want him to play within the system of a proven coach, or do you want him to be the player you know he can be? He was never touted as a "human swiss army knife" type of guy outta college, just a scorer. He's been coached against doing the things he did well in college ie creating off the dribble,attacking the basket and playing big minutes. It's kinda funny like how people are blasting Gil for not being in attack modde the other night after they complained about him "overhandling" last year.

NY has a ways to go to becoming a complete player no doubt, but there are things he does very well. it's about HIM maximizing his opportunities. He should also get in the gym with Gil when he's doing those maniac shooting drills off the late night. You can't push for a starters role going 1-7 agains mostly backups in the 4th Q.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 7, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"On the bright side, it has been reported that he was really good in camp . . ."

On the dark side, that exact same thing has been reported almost every year he's been in the league.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 7, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

thanks man, justin.tv should have it was well

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

i figured, but i had a bad experience with that site. A homeboy of mines showed me the site at work but i forgot what it was by the time i got home. i typed in JustinVideo.com. Check out that site one day. you'll remember to make the distinction going forward.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 7, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Nick Young should be carving out a role for himself while Howard's still down. I know it's early, and it's only one game, but he seems to be stuck in same ole mode.

McGee and Blatche both seem to be maturing and their games have grown, while Nick just doesn't seem to come into camp with a game face on. Seems like every year it's March before he puts together a series of games where you start to think he's finally starting to get it. Then next fall, same ole Nick.

Howard gets back, and the battle for minutes at the 2 & 3 could get intense. A healthy Gil has always eaten up a lot of minutes. And Flip gave J Wall 38 minutes the other night, so B/U point minutes are going to be limited. If a healthy Howard starts to consume the lionshare of the minutes at the 3, Hinrich will be left to scraping up 30+ minutes a game from all 3 positions, and Nick could be on the outside of the rotation looking in.

Nick seems to falter if he comes in the game and his first couple of shots don't drop for him. His game goes up and down based on his scoring, I've seen all the stats about how if he gets minutes he plays well. Well it's this simple, he misses his first couple of shots and he loses concentration, he hits his first couple of shots he's ok. So if Nick comes in, misses a couple in a row, he's coming out, he hits them, he stays in.

Howard is an intense competitor, he and Hinrich bring an edge to this team that it's lacked in the past. Lets hope that Flip handles his return from injury better then EJ and his starting Gil out with 40+ minutes on a back to back with a flight in between.

A lot gets said on this site about Gil's rehab, but EJ's handling of injuried players left much to be desired. He did the same thing with Butler when he played a strain into a tear.

With a healthy Gil, Howard, Hinrich, & Wall the Wiz could be very solid and competitive on the perimeter. Gil and Howard are still if's at this point. But if they both return to form this could be a very fun club to watch...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 7, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

the truth is NY is a non-issue. Signing KH was the equivalent of waiving him. Just as the organization decided (thankfully) that AB/JM were foundational pieces (hopefully)...they decided NYs time was up. If he plays pretty well or even good, he's still not going to see much time unless there's an injury. KH has guaranteed minutes that wont be infringed upon unless NY suddenly morphs into an all-star. Dont hold your breath!

At this point he's really auditioning for other clubs, and if he can come off the bench and score in a microwave role it will 1)be good for our season and 2)land him a deal elsewhere

a guy who can "only" score will always have a contract. Despite how much we all like to talk defense and the "little things"...putting the ball in the hoop is still the toughest job in the league

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

@lil

I hear ya. I don't expect NY to be a swiss army knife, but to be pretty must dead last in both categories to me just speaks to the way he's playing on the court. It says to me that he's not involved in the whole game.

If you're only contributing one thing on the court, then you're a specialist, and you'll get whatever minutes they need for your specialty.

Since he is primarily a scorer, the assists bother me less, but he should find a way to snag a few boards a game, that to me is more of an effort thing. Also, and getting back more to the things he has done and can do now, he needs to attack the rim. I don't really want to see the step back fall-away jumper from 20 ft again, but he can do more things than just coming off of screens. Especially when his shot isn't falling, so if nothing else he can get to the line.

We'll see how he responds. Every clip I remember seeing of NY's from the scrimmage videos we've seen was of NY draining J's, which is great when it works. He seemed to be in good rhythm with it through training camp. Hopefully he didn't fall so in love with it (again) that he forgets the rest of his game.

Posted by: ts35 | October 7, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

a guy who can "only" score will always have a contract. Despite how much we all like to talk defense and the "little things"...putting the ball in the hoop is still the toughest job in the league

Posted by: divi3

Personally, I don't think it's the toughest. But regardless, and unfortunately for Nick, there are lots of other guys who can do it even if they can't do anything else. Lots of guys in the NBA were the best players on their teams and 'scorers'.

So, yeah, he'll probably always have a contract, but he may never get the PT he wants.

Posted by: ts35 | October 7, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

'on their teams' meaning in high school, college, etc.

Posted by: ts35 | October 7, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

There is really one easy way to settle the whole Nick question.

Let him start at the 3 for a block of 5 games or so at the beginning of the season, before JH gets back. Let him play 10 straight minutes in the first quarter and then let him start off the 2nd, whether he hits or not, he gets 20+ minutes in the first half of each of those games.

If he gets too streaky or can't find a sync, then cut him loose. the argument has always been that he isn't allowed to play himself into a rythm. He gets 5 chances and then there is no argument anymore.

that is more than most NBA players get and he really doesn't deserve it, but I'd rather see that happen when the games mean next to nothing than have to drag this albatross around with us for a few more seasons, hoping Nick will play games like he plays practice.

Posted by: Blurred | October 7, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

i like it blurred, i dunno if it was done before, but right now is a better time than any to do it. I dunno if 10 mins to start each half is right either tho. i mean if he can play well almost the whole first and third quarters we aren't even having this discussion after the first game, he's stealing the starting spot. But once again is he gonna start out of position at the 3? Cuz you know he ain't bumpin 9Milly from the starting 2 guard spot.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 7, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

@ts35

Flip don't want no dribble from NY. I'm telling you. You won't see layups or dunks from NY unless it's in transition.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 7, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10, Quick answer to your question with a question, on this team who do you want handling the ball? J Wall or Nick? Hinrich or Nick? Gil or Nick?

If Nick's going to have success on this team he's going to have to learn to work without the ball. In the pecking order there are three primary ball handlers that would come before Nick.

If he's on the floor with Howard, I'd make that 4.

Roger Mason is an excellent example of a guy that had to change his college game to catch a job in the pros. I'm afraid Nick hasn't figured that out yet...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 7, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Flohr...you forgot about Morrison. I'd probably rather have him handle the ball before Nick

Posted by: Blurred | October 7, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Flohr...you forgot about Morrison. I'd probably rather have him handle the ball before Nick

Posted by: Blurred | October 7, 2010 5:29 PM

Damn...I know we're harshing on NY but that may have crossed the line ;)

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Q. How does NY's postgame routine differ depending on whether the Wizards win or lose a game?

A. It doesn't.

I am sure he brought some degree of nonchalance with him but also imagine it was strengthened during his time here... until this year it was a challenge to identify any player who was truly invested for this team/organization...AJ was closest to at least playing the part. NY seems about as self aware as Gilbert so I do not expect to see the light come on for him.

I am not sure NY even likes playing basketball...

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | October 7, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Puzzling NY stat:

Started 28 games the past 2 seasons, team is:

12-16 when he started

vs

32-112 when he didnt

Posted by: divi3 | October 7, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I am all for the Wizards and think they are doing great. BUT, in the last five minutes of the game against Dallas, with a 14 point lead, we start jacking up 3 pointers on successive trips down the floor and the next thing you know the score is tied. NY is on the floor taking some of those goofy shots. Wall was sitting and we revert back to bad basketball. Why cant this team, or any team, learn from Wall. Why cant they just try to run out the clock? find the open player? pass the ball? Maybe it will come, BUT, until then keep Wall or maybe Hinrich on the floor until the game is sealed. I repeat from other posts, Wall changes this team fundamentally. And, our athleticism is off the charts.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | October 7, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Here's hoping Josh comes all the way back; as far as NY is concerned the light's on but ain't nobody home he should be further along in terms of his maturation on and off the court although i should leave the off the court stuff out of this blog. I sometime thinks he has all the tools but then i think about his "handle" and then his shot selection and then his court awareness and then i say "see had he stayed in school he would be a better player" The Bullets need Nick Young to contribute this season especially when he comes off the bench but he might not even make the team but it's too early a call on that matter.

Posted by: dargregmag | October 7, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Didn't see the game so I don't know. Who was jacking up "goofy" shots besides NY? Was ARENAS in there during that time, or BLATCHE? Who was on the floor?

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 7, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear Howard is doing well. As long as he doesn't borrow Gil's famous 'chute, I think things will turn out okay.

Posted by: NWDC3 | October 7, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

From the recap and boxscores it sure looks like Yi had a solid game. Two in a row.

There's a quality player in there somewhere. If the Wizllets can get it out of him, that'd be a major pickup.

Posted by: SteveMG | October 7, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Josh Howard is a low-life piece of garbage. It is absolutely shameful that this horrible American is able to play in our nation's capital. If you don't respect our country's pledge of allegiance, I have no need for you. Here's to the karma train hitting you again and taking out both your legs, J-Ho Bag

Posted by: Max_in_Missouri | October 8, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

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