Dwight Howard says he is pain-free after undergoing back surgery and is focusing on a faster return to NBA action.
The 33-year-old Washington Wizards center had surgery on November 30 to alleviate a muscle injury near the buttocks and is expected to miss two to three months.
"Physically, I'm a lot better than I was before the surgery," Howard said. "The nine games I played, I basically played on one leg. So, you know, I'm just happy that that's out the way and I can rehab and get ready for the second half of the season."
Howard missed the first seven games this season with what the team called "gluteal soreness." In the nine games he did play, Howard averaged 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds.
Live NBA: Houston @ Miami
Howard noted it's a slow recovery process and his main activity to date is walking, which he was mentally prepared for after a 2012 back surgery to repair a herniated disc.
"When you have back surgery, the rehab is a little bit different for any other injury," he added.
"The first couple of weeks and almost like a month and a half, you're just walking. You got to start with the core program, just Level 1, which is real slow.
"Then you got to pass Level 1 and get to Level 2. You got to get all the way to Level 5 to be able to play."
"I remember the first time I went through this. The first time I went to the gym, I could only shoot 10 jump shots, and I couldn't jump.
Get NBA news on your phone
Want the latest NBA news, features and highlights on your phone? Find out more
"I could only stand in one spot, lift my arms and shoot, and that was, like, the hardest thing to do - just go to the gym and not be able to do what you want to do.
"So, I understand this process, and I've just been mentally preparing myself for what's ahead, just to make it easier.
"But also to hopefully make my return faster, because I know what I need to do to get better."
Washington acquired Howard in July after he and the Brooklyn Nets arranged a contract buyout.
Sky Sports is the home of the NBA in the UK with live coverage throughout the week, including selected live games free to all Sky subscribers via Sky Sports Mix. www.skysports.com/nba will be your home for news, reports, video and features throughout the season while you can follow us @SkySportsNBA