Dwight Howard's back is definitely a reason for concern, but you have to like the attitude being displayed by the All-Star center with the 2012-13 season less than a month away.
According to Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, D-12 is aiming to return ahead of schedule: "Howard is determined to play against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 30 at Staples Center, and his progress in recent weeks has strengthened the possibility, sources said."
Wojnarowski also states that "Howard has privately indicated his back has returned to 85 percent strength, sources said."
If his back really feels that good, and I'm not sure why he would lie about it, Lakers fans should be encouraged. Not only is their prized possession possibly going to play right away this season, but he obviously wants to be out there.
Players don't normally just recover ahead of schedule for no reason. You have to take care of yourself, train and take all necessary measures. If Howard didn't want to be out there, he would be out of shape, hurt and wouldn't care when he gets back.
Wojnarowski's report mentions that Howard still needs clearance from the team doctors. Don't expect the Lakers to just throw him back onto the court; it's a long season, and risking his long-term health isn't necessary, but he'll play if he's ready.
People can question Howard's attitude. His departure from Orlando was mired in controversy, turning the entire situation into one giant circus, but a change of scenery, and the potential to win, can change a player.
Howard knows what he has in Los Angeles. The team is championship-caliber, and he will be revered as long as he behaves himself.
Working hard to get back onto the court makes Howard look good, and it will make LA look even better.
It's hard to tell if Howard's back will stay healthy, but it doesn't get more encouraging than this.