Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard tells TMZ ... he's been in constant contact with head coach Stan Van Gundy since his back surgery ... saying they've spoken "a bunch of times" since the playoffs began.
Dwight was on a walk in Beverly Hills today ... when we asked how life has been since he underwent back surgery in L.A. for a herniated disk last month.
"Sad" ... Howard said ... adding, "Just a little sad that I can't be in Orlando with my teammates in the playoffs."
"I went back and forth with the doctor for a couple of days ... and he just said, 'Dwight I need you to stay here, I don't need you to go back home, I don't need you traveling on the plane ... anything.'"
"I feel like I'm in jail," Dwight said ... "I just really wish I could be there for my teammates."
Dwight says he's been watching every game and speaking with teammates since he's been sidelined ... "supporting them, telling them what they need to do."
But then the bombshell -- Dwight says he's been talking with Coach Van Gundy "a bunch of times since the playoffs began" ... shocking since Stan believes Dwight has been trying to get him fired from the head coaching job.
As for rumors that Dwight faked his injury ... Dwight says it's all B.S. -- claiming the fragment that was floating in his back was the largest fragment his world famous surgeon has ever seen.
"I would never quit on my team, I would never quit on my fans."