Howard slowed by ankle injury

Dallas Mavericks swingman Josh Howard could be out until the end of December, a source told ESPNDallas.com.

The Mavericks announced Friday that Howard would be out indefinitely to continue his rehabilitation from offseason ankle surgery. Howard will travel and practice with the team during his absence from the active roster.

"He will rehab even more aggressively than he has in the past," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Friday morning.

Carlisle declined to estimate on a timetable for Howard's return.

The source said the best estimate is that Howard wouldn't play again until the end of December, although the hope was that he would be ready before then.

Howard had minor reconstructive surgery on his left ankle May 22. He made his season debut Saturday night. In his third game, Howard was benched a few minutes into the second half after Carlisle saw him limping noticeably.

Carlisle said that Howard did not suffer a setback in his recovery from the ankle surgery, but after several discussions within the organization, the decision was made to have him focus on strengthening the ankle while sitting out games.

Howard missed 30 games last season because of injuries to his ankle and left wrist, which was also operated on May 22. The Mavericks went 33-19 with him and 17-13 without him.

Tim MacMahon covers the Dallas Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at tim.macmahon@espn3.com.