WASHINGTON (AP) -- New Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard is sitting out the team's season opener because of a lower-back injury.
Howard missed all of training camp and Washington's entire exhibition schedule.
Coach Scott Brooks said before the Wizards hosted the Miami Heat on Thursday night that Ian Mahinmi would replace Howard in the starting lineup.
Brooks said that Howard is "getting close" to being able to play but is not "quite there yet." The coach is not sure whether Howard will be available for Washington's next game, at home against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.
Howard was not absent because of injury even once last season while with the Charlotte Hornets. He played in 81 of 82 games, missing one because of suspension.