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Posted at 2:24 PM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Josh Howard on return: "It's about to be that time"

By Michael Lee

Josh Howard is moving closer to making his long-awaited season debut after spending the past few months rehabilitating from left knee surgery. Howard has been cautious about his return -- and had a slight setback a few weeks ago -- but he said on Tuesday that he would likely be back on the court at a home game in the next two weeks.


Yeah, I'm almost ready. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

"It's about to be that time," Howard said at the Wizards shootaround at the UCLA student activity center. "It's probably going to be one of those home games coming up."

Howard still wouldn't offer a specific timetable. When asked if he would be back for either the Lakers on Dec. 14 or Miami on Dec. 18, Howard said, "I can honestly say I don't know, but I hope that next week [is when it happens]. Charlotte [Dec. 20] or Chicago [Dec. 22] might be better for me."

Coach Flip Saunders joked recently that Howard looks like he could play now, given how he has been participating in five-on-five drills, without any limitations, in practice the past few weeks. After practice on Monday, Howard played in some two-on-two full court drills with Hilton Armstrong, Hamady Ndiaye and Kevin Seraphin. He moved effortlessly up and down the court and had no problems cutting or sprinting up and down. Afterward, Howard, "I can run now."

"I think Josh is getting closer and closer," Saunders said. "The thing we have to look at with Josh, since we don't have a lot of practice time, do we want to activate him at some point and know that the games are going to be his practice. He might play only 10 or 12 minutes, but gradually use that as his rehabilitation."

Could it be next week? "Could be," Saunders said. "I don't know. I think we'll evaluate after we get a couple of good workouts in. We'll evaluate when he gets back."

Howard tore the ACL in his left knee on Feb. 22 in a win against Chicago and had surgery a few weeks later. He has been rehabbing with the Wizards' training staff ever since, but now feels that it's time to actually put on a uniform. "It's probably going to start up slow. It's not going to be like I'm out there the whole game," Howard said. "It's going to be some soreness but nothing that's limiting me. I'm able to fight through it, keep practicing. I'm basically using my games as practice and working my way into it. Just how I've been feeling, continue to do my treatment. I had my down period. A real bad case of tendonitis, that come along with the injury. I had to treat that. Now I'm back on the right path."

"It's going to be some soreness but nothing that's limiting me. I'm able to fight through it, keep practicing."

Howard said he already knows how he can best help the Wizards as he eases his way back. "Mentally, I can go out there and start it on the defensive end with us. I know I've always been able to lead by example with that. So I think that will be a big help with this team. Just keep working on my offense until it comes. I already know that's going to come. But I think defense is the key and me coming back helps that out a lot."

After being away from basketball for nearly eight months, Howard said, "I'm going to be excited. It's a good feeling to know that I'm actually going to be able to come back and play, be almost 100 percent healthy. Just go out there and have fun. It's been a long time coming."

By Michael Lee  | December 7, 2010; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Flip Saunders, Josh Howard  
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Next: Open thread: Wizards (6-13) at Lakers (14-6)

Comments

This guy is a real leader. Last year he came in after the whole starting lineup got traded and said come on lets play. He should be the real captain

Posted by: jefferu | December 7, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

He makes Wiz immediately better.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | December 7, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Josh, might play only 10 or 12 minutes, but gradually use that as his rehabilitation."

Use that as his rehabilitation?

This organization is a joke...I was hoping Ted was going to make a difference.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 7, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Here we go. Yet another in a long line of would-be Wizards saviors. Collect them all.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 7, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Samson151

A 45 to 3 butt-whipping in front of a national audience? Of course that falls on the coach.

Like the Orlando game or the Atlanta game?

LOL notice he included 'outplayed'.

The difference is Flip never includes outcoached!

Besides, Rex Ryan's rep precedes him. He's a tough old-school football coach. Flip's been accused of exactly the opposite -- of being afraid to confront his players.

Afraid to confront his players? Then he isn't qualified to be an NBA head coach since he just criticises them in the media instead.

Do you even read what you write?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 7, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

At least he is a veteran that has been around and gives us a little more stability. He is going to be only the third player that is closer to 30 than 20.

Posted by: sorman73 | December 7, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"Samson151
A 45 to 3 butt-whipping in front of a national audience? Of course that falls on the coach.
Like the Orlando game or the Atlanta game?
LOL notice he included 'outplayed'.
The difference is Flip never includes outcoached!
Besides, Rex Ryan's rep precedes him. He's a tough old-school football coach. Flip's been accused of exactly the opposite -- of being afraid to confront his players.
Afraid to confront his players? Then he isn't qualified to be an NBA head coach since he just criticises them in the media instead.
Do you even read what you write?
Posted by: bulletsfan78"

OK that has to be the most confusing post in recent memory. No quote marks. Where does one end and the other begin? Hard to tell. Maybe that's the idea. Punctuation optional. I'm beginning to suspect organicity here.

Let's let this lie. Bulletsfan78 doesn't understand what I'm saying. I'm tired of saying it. Best we move on.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure you'll find a way to blast me for understanding him, but his post wasn't as confusing to me, maybe cuz i didn't just shoot it down off the break. He's saying what a lot of other folks have been saying. Flip preaches accountability, but never mentions his role in the teams fortunes. I think that's why BF78 posted @ you and why some folks find it ironic that you cite Rex Ryan for your example. He is one of the most vocal coaches in the NFL and won't hesitate to take a shot at anyone, even at himself if it is warranted. He said they were outcoached before he said outplayed. He wanted folks to know that he didn't do his job and then he said his team didn't perform. He definitely wasn't talkin bout how Sanchez has to be more consistent,and Greene has to get his fat A$$ between the tackles or anything like that. His performance was the first one he mentioned. He said he didn't coach his team well enough for them to win.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Josh Howard will help this team, he can't hardly help but help them as bad as they are. He plays hard and plays D. he is a vet that has good court sense. Those are all attributes that this team could use.

Plus, he is on a one year contract, right, so he better play hard every night, for his own sake.

Savior? Not quite. he will improve this team from a 25-30 win team that regularly loses by 15-25 pts to a 30 -35 win team that only loses by 10-17 pts on a regular basis.

The savior of this team is in the tandem of Wall and McGee. Suround those guys with some hard working talent and good coaching and we will be regular visitors to the conference finals in a couple of years.

Posted by: Blurred | December 7, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Blurred | December 7, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

35 wins this year...................pass that $h1+ cuz. something will have to change to get us to 35 wins, and for some reason I'm reluctant to hitch my wagon to a 30 yr old coming off of major knee surgery.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

And - for the record, as much as it pains me to say this, I am starting to agree with lilhollywood and BF78 about Flip. Whatever, though, because this team doesn't have the talent to win no matter who is coach.

Maybe a better motivational coach could have helped them lose by only 12 against Toronto or maybe a better teaching coach would have helped McGee get better sooner, but we still would have lost and McGee is still making huge strides this year.

Posted by: Blurred | December 7, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"I'm sure you'll find a way to blast me for understanding him, but his post wasn't as confusing to me, maybe cuz i didn't just shoot it down off the break. He's saying what a lot of other folks have been saying. Flip preaches accountability, but never mentions his role in the teams fortunes. I think that's why BF78 posted @ you and why some folks find it ironic that you cite Rex Ryan for your example. He is one of the most vocal coaches in the NFL and won't hesitate to take a shot at anyone, even at himself if it is warranted. He said they were outcoached before he said outplayed. He wanted folks to know that he didn't do his job and then he said his team didn't perform. He definitely wasn't talkin bout how Sanchez has to be more consistent,and Greene has to get his fat A$$ between the tackles or anything like that. His performance was the first one he mentioned. He said he didn't coach his team well enough for them to win.Posted by: lilhollywood10"

Nah, I won't blast you. I will point out that I don't think you understood my point either. Which was (I'm repeating this for the last time) that Ryan held his players accountable for the loss as well as the coaches, that Ryan has been criticized for being too hard on players while Flip has been criticized for the opposite, and that Rex wasn't my example, it was somebody else's.

But let's move on. I'm tired of the discussion.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Is Gil starting tonight? I saw this from a reliable Wiz fan on another board. He wrote this to Leonsis. Ted always responds back to him and this is what was said:

Sent Leonsis this email yesterday:

————–
Mr. Leonsis,

Hopefully this doesn’t fall into your folder of “overreacting” fan emails. I sincerely appreciate all the hard work you’ve put into interfacing with your customers over the offseason and giving us all hope. However I’d like to point out some of the predictions/goals you’ve made off the court concerning the direction of the Wizards have not been implemented.

For instance, here is an article from July.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcspor … e_one.html

You stated how we’d have one of the league’s most dynamic backcourts, and have a team that “puts up a lot of points” and “just runs the floor”. Also stated you planned to feature Wall alongside Arenas for this very purpose and with the rest of the youth. You stated that was the “system the WIzards will build around.”

However, in fact we’re playing quite slow most nights, and featuring players who have the skillsets which go directly against your preseason wishes. We aren’t scoring, or running. Hinrich (capable, but offensively/speed challenged) has in fact played 100% more minutes next to Wall this year. Arenas has played around 120 minutes next to Wall, Hinrich 240 (give or take 3-4 minutes). Seems to contradict your wishes/hopes for the squad this season. If your goal was to run/play the youth thus far it’s not happening. Guys like Hilton Armstrong and Hinrich are playing 8/12 minutes in crucial stretches while your dynamic/speed/scoring players such as Arenas/McGee/Young ride the bench.

Thanks much for your time, and I’m confident your message in the offseason still rings true and the ship will soon be righted. We all realize this is not a championship year, but it disappoints me to see your vision for the team not being implemented by your staff.

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 7, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

His response:

Ok. Thank you.

Arenas starting tonight. Running more soon.

Ted

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 7, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Seems strange to me that Flip would change so quickly. Even if he considered it, I could see him starting Hirnich against Kobe and then Gil after that. seems strange

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 7, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

If Gil starts, then the key matchup is Gil vs Kobe. I expect us to play a tone of zone in that matchup but Gil has to be aggressive on the other end. He better not settle. Kobe is far too big to stay with him if Gil gets low & attacks

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 7, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

35 wins this year...................pass that $h1+ cuz. something will have to change to get us to 35 wins, and for some reason I'm reluctant to hitch my wagon to a 30 yr old coming off of major knee surgery.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Please do me the courtesy of actually reposting my comment when you want to reference it so that people will see I really said and the context.

i said:
he will improve this team from a 25-30 win team that regularly loses by 15-25 pts to a 30 -35 win team that only loses by 10-17 pts on a regular basis.

So my point was that he will improve this really bad team by about 5 wins. If they continue their percentage through the rest of the season, they are on track to win 25.89 games this season. Increase that by 5 and you get 30.89 wins.

I have been saying since early summer I thought this was a 30 win team, maybe 32/33 wins and that included having a halfway fixed 30 YO Howard for 2/3 of the season. I stand by it. You can disagree with what I say, but pulling one number out and making it look like I said we would 35 games is childish.

That said, it is possible we do win 35 games, but like you said, Something will have to change for this team to win 35 games and that something could be a combination of (in no particular order of likelihood or impact):

1 -Howard's return
2 - Nick getting on a 10 game hot streak
3 - McGee's continued improvement
4 - Wall staying healthy
5 - Blatche returning to pre-contract extension form
6 - Arenas getting off the ref's turd list
7 - Firing the coach and the team goes on a 5 game win streak
8 - Trading Arenas and/or whomever for some different/unrecognized/motivated talent
9 - Thornton becomes a steady contributor
10 - every other team gets the Orlando stomach virus 3 days before they play washington, not 3 days after.

The point is i see 35 wins as highly unlikely, but not impossible. More importantly, though is that Howard helps the team get better for the future.

Posted by: Blurred | December 7, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Arenas starting tonight. Running more soon.

Ted

Posted by: dlts2041

the plot thickens....

not for nothing, you just know arenas or wall is going to get hurt tonight so that kirk is starting again by the time they get to sacramento. wait a minute... i just realized that ted didn't say arenas and wall were starting. he just said arenas....crap, we could be looking at arenas and hinrich starting again. nevermind.

Posted by: lawdireckon | December 7, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Well we know Flip wasn't gonna let HIS BOY get embarrased by Kobe.Looks like the return of the 3 guard

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Ed Tapscott still with the wiz ????????

Posted by: suliman215 | December 7, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Bringing Wall and Young together off the bench might not be the worst idea in the world.

Posted by: audacitea | December 7, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

NOTE to Suliman215: Yes from what i heard on the BB&T broadcast(Md.-Temple) sunday night, Tapscott is in charge of the Wizard's scouting dept.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 7, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse


Well we know Flip wasn't gonna let HIS BOY get embarrased by Kobe.Looks like the return of the 3 guard

Posted by: lilhollywood

smh and lmao! you just knew something was in it for kirk.

Posted by: lawdireckon | December 7, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Bringing Wall and Young together off the bench might not be the worst idea in the world. Posted by: audacitea

No, but it's close. The worst idea in the world is starting Young at SF.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 7, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, Howard could make a bigger difference than we expect. Depends on how many of these twelve to fifteen minutes stints it takes to get him in game condition. There's not much in the way of practice coming up, so he'll learn to play with these teammates in the game setting. He seems OK with that last season, in that brief period before he got hurt.

Howard's a veteran SF with a proven record of NBA level defense. Is he enough to turn this team around? Don't be silly.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Flip, when the dust settles please think about your rotation. I understand your loyalty to Ernie G but you're not winning games.
Starters: Wall, Arenas, Howard, Blatche, McGee.
Second Set: KH,Young, Thornton, Yi/Booker, Armstrong.

We have a deep team...please use them right and start winning games!!!

Posted by: Gooddad | December 7, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"No, but it's close. The worst idea in the world is starting Young at SF.Posted by: djnnnou"

I dunno, he's a pretty good matchup against, say, Kirk Hinrich.

Just foolin'.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Bringing Wall and Young together off the bench might not be the worst idea in the world. Posted by: audacitea

No, but it's close. The worst idea in the world is starting Young at SF.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 7, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

The 3 guard offense in the NBA is the worst idea in the history of basketball.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 7, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Josh "American Hero" Howard should kick things off by singing the national anthem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BqG9kjknVw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8yQ1BVDaIk

After watching the last video, who will take Josh? Yes, that be Les BouleS.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 7, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Because he doesn't believe the national anthem is for him? WHO CARES!? It's a stupid song. Its his right to agree or disagree with it. After all he has a point.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | December 7, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

wow, we just cant get it right. Now they say Gil will start along with Thorton but Dray is out with a bad hip

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 7, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

wow, we just cant get it right. Now they say Gil will start along with Thorton but Dray is out with a bad hip

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 7, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Can Kirk play the PF spot?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 7, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Man..I hope it's not the three guard and thorton at the PF. With the length of the Lakers we're gonna get killed worst than expected.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | December 7, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Can Kirk play the PF spot?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 7, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

That just worked ...well done. You have credit for 5 more negative posts after this contribution.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | December 7, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Is flip the best coach for this team? NO. Flip Saunders is not the right coach for this team...

Posted by: ronniecope106 | December 8, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Josh Howard hey i forgot about that guy.

Oh Josh will be back The Wiz are definitely going to be in the playoffs!

LOL

Posted by: shamken | December 8, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

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