By Ben Golliver
Rumors of locker room turmoil could be the least of the Lakers' concerns.
The Lakers announced Monday that an MRI revealed that center Dwight Howard has suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder. His recovery timeline is not yet known, although he will miss at least a week before being re-evaluated.
Howard first injured his shoulder during Friday's loss to the Clippers. After initially stating that he might miss some time because his shoulder was causing him "a lot of pain," Howard opted to play through the pain, but promptly re-aggravated the injury during the Lakers' next game, a Sunday night loss to the Nuggets.
A one-week absence would sideline Howard for four games: the Lakers face the Rockets on Tuesday, the Spurs on Wednesday, the Thunder on Friday and the Cavaliers on Sunday. The Lakers announced in a release that Howard would travel with the team on its upcoming road trip, which is a generally positive sign. Hornets forward Jason Smith was recently diagnosed with a torn labrum in his shoulder, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and he was able to return to action after missing just two weeks.
Howard told reporters on Monday that he would not undergo surgery for the injury.
"I don't need surgery," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It's possible, however, that such an injury, depending on the severity of the tear, could carry an extended rehabilitation timeline. For what it's worth, the Lakers initially announced guard Steve Nash would miss at least a week with a non-displaced fibula fracture back in October; Nash did not return for more than seven weeks.
Rotation-wise, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni will be up a creek, at least in the short term, as forward/center Pau Gasol suffered a concussion on Sunday and will also miss at least the next two games. Reserve forward Jordan Hill's status is also unknown, as he suffered a hip injury. That leaves D'Antoni with a big man rotation of Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark and Robert Sacre. Small forward Metta World Peace could also swing up to play some power forward. Sacre, a rookie center, was recently assigned to the Lakers' D-League affiliate but will be called up .
ESPNLA.com reported Howard's thoughts following Sunday's game.
"I would like to play, but I just want to make sure that my shoulder is good to go," Howard said after the game. "I don't want to injure myself to where I'm out for the season, so, I just got to go and see what happens at the MRI."
"It wasn't as bad as last game, but like I said, I don't want to injure it to the point where I can't play," Howard said.
ESPNLA.com also reported Howard's initial assessment of his shoulder following Friday's game. The injury was first dubbed a sprained rotator cuff.
"I thought it was a stinger. It kept hurting the whole rest of the game, but my adrenaline was pumping," Howard said after sitting out of the Lakers’ practice Saturday. "But last night, it was killing me. And I was in a lot of pain this morning. I couldn't put my clothes on. Hopefully it feels better so I can play, but if not, I'll have to sit down."Howard, 27, has played in all 33 games for the 15-18 Lakers this season despite coming off of back surgery that ended his 2011-12 season. Howard is averaging 17.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.8 assists and 1 steal in 36.2 minutes per game, despite reporting that he hasn't felt 100 percent health-wise after his surgery.