UPDATE: Tuesday, October 23 at 5:40 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
According to Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Bresnahan, Howard is not expected to play in Wednesday night's exhibition game versus the Clippers:
Dwight Howard also expected to miss Wednesday's exhibition vs. Clips. No Dwight, no Kobe, Clippers looking good so far. Wonder who'll win...— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) October 23, 2012
It's not a regular-season game, but Lakers fans would still like to see a healthy Howard with the season rapidly approaching.
Stay tuned for more updates.
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 7:50 p.m ET by Ben Chodos
Dwight Howard will play in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform for the first time tonight against the Sacramento Kings.
Mike Breshnahan of The Los Angeles Times reported the news via Twitter.
Dwight Howard will play tonight. His Laker debut.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) October 21, 2012
This is fantastic news for Lakers fans, as it suggests that superstar center is close to a full recovery from the back issues that have kept him off the court.
---End of update---
UPDATE: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4:30 p.m ET by Richard Langford
The wait may finally be over. Dwight Howard is a game-time decision for the Lakers' Sunday night preseason affair with the Sacramento Kings. Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano tweeted out the news.
Dwight Howard is a "game time decision" tonight according to multiple reports. If that's the case, I'd bet he sees some action.— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) October 21, 2012
I have to agree with Soriano. After all this time, it seems pointless to say Howard is a game-time decision if there isn't a good reason to think he will play. I wouldn't expect him to get extensive run, but any run at all will be a welcomed sight after the insanely long process it took for Howard to become a Laker.
UPDATE: Friday, Oct. 19 at 1:50 a.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo
We finally have an idea as to when Dwight Howard will make his Lakers debut. According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc Stein, the Lakers are hoping D12 will play against the Kings on Sunday:
Lakers eye Dwight Howard debut Sun vs Sac,sources tell Y! DW expected to play in 2 of last 3 pre games but not both back to backs.Story soon— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) October 19, 2012
This is certainly good news for Lakers fans who want to see their new star center in action. By getting his feet wet before the regular season starts, the Lakers should have a better idea of how close he is to 100 percent.
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Thursday, Oct. 18 at 1:50 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
Dwight Howard recently joined 710 ESPN Los Angeles with Steve Mason, Max Kellerman and Mark Willard to talk about all things Lakers. In the process, he offered a status update on his back injury (via SportsRadioInterviews.com):
How are you feeling?
“I’m feeling just fine. I had a good workout before the [preseason] game and been working extremely hard, so I can get my lungs and everything back. It’s been cool man. I’ve been trying to get into great shape, so I can get out there and play.”
Are you pain free?
“Yeah I am pain free. The pain is in my lungs [laughs] in terms of conditioning.”
That's certainly good for Lakers fans to hear. It sounds like Howard is progressing nicely. Well, it sounds nice if you're in Los Angeles; for the rest of the NBA, it's not such lovely news.
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 4:25 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney
He's baaaack. Well, almost (via the Los Angeles Times' Mark Medina):
Lakers say Dwight Howard has been cleared for full court five on five for limited minutes.— Mark Medina (@MarkGMedina) October 9, 2012
Howard will not play Wednesday against Portland, though— Mark Medina (@MarkGMedina) October 9, 2012
While this might seem that the Lakers are unnecessarily rushing Howard back for meaningless preseason games, it actually speaks to the health of the big man.
"Iron Man" is simply too valuable to this team to rush him back. If they are sticking him back into live action already, it doesn't necessarily mean that the management is making a brash decision; it more likely means Howard is healthy and ready to go, which in turn means the Lakers are going to be dangerous much earlier than we all originally thought.
---End of Update---
It's just unfortunate that his back is nowhere near healthy enough to be carrying a team.
The news comes from Lakers reporter Mike Trudell on NBA.com:
The Lakers training staff, led by head trainer Gary Vitti and head physical therapist Dr. Judy Seto, have recently been integrated into newly acquired center Dwight Howard's rehabilitation from back surgery in April.
The team is not giving a timetable for Howard's return to the court at this point. However, they have stated that he will not be ready for the start of training camp or the beginning of the preseason schedule starting on Oct. 7 against Golden State in Fresno.
This certainly isn't a groundbreaking development. When Howard went down with the back injury and was subsequently forced to undergo surgery while with the Magic, it was public knowledge that it was something that would take a while to recover from.
Nonetheless, it's a situation worth paying attention to.
How many games will Howard play during the 2012-13 season?
The fiasco that was Howard's offseason somewhat took the focus off of the fact that he will be a 6'11", 265-pound big man coming off serious back surgery.
How quickly the normally healthy (he's only missed more than four games in a season once in eight years) center returns to his elite form will have a huge impact on Los Angeles' season.
The Lakers have had arguably the best offseason in the NBA. They've added depth all over the court, and even without Howard, they have a legitimate Big Three of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
But their aspiration is clearly an NBA championship, and while it's obviously not impossible, it's hard to bring home the Larry O'Brien Trophy without a dominant big man in the paint.
As if Howard needed any more pressure on his recovering back.