Dwight Howard Hopes to Play In Preseason While Rehabbing Back Injury

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2012

Dwight Howard's back is a lingering concern entering the 2012 NBA season, but it doesn't look like it's discouraging the All-Star center.

According to Yahoo! Sports reporter Marc J. Spears, Howard is hoping to get back onto the court a little sooner than expected:

Dwight Howard says he hopes to play in some preseason games after taking part in entire light @lakers practice but remains cautious.

— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) October 2, 2012

CBS Sports reporter Ken Berger piggybacked that news moments later:

Dwight Howard's target date seems to be a moving target. Asked today if he could play in Sunday's preseason opener, he said,"Hopefully."

— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) October 2, 2012

This news comes days after Howard told Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski that he hopes to return for the Lakers' season opener on October 30 against the Dallas Mavericks. According to the Wojnarowski report, Howard's back is at 85 percent, but has "yet to engage in five-on-five or significant contact situations."

This latest from Spears doesn't make it sound like Howard was banging in the post in practice, but you like to hear the word practice, in any capacity, when it comes to injured star players.

Also important, perhaps even more so, is Howard's attitude here. He's obviously eager to join and contribute to his new team as they prepare for their NBA championship push. The Lakers are no doubt talented without him, but he's the straw that will stir the drink.

It's hard to tell if Howard will actually make it back—or, if Lakers doctors will allow him to make it back in the preseason—but progress shows that it's a definite possibility.

Don't expect the Lakers to just throw him into the fire until they're absolutely sure. Jeopardizing his health for a few preseason games, or even the season opener, would be unwise given Howard's value and the length of an NBA season.

Keep an eye out for Howard as preseason basketball approaches. Everyone is excited to see if the Lakers can live up to the hype, and Howard appears eager to answer his critics.