Dwight Howard: Lakers Are Smart to Be Extra Cautious with Star's Return

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIOctober 16, 2012

Oct. 10, 2012; Ontario, CA, USA;   Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) out on the court during warms up before the pre-season game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Citizens Business Bank Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Los Angeles Lakers fans are undoubtedly excited to see their new nucleus together, but they must appreciate the care the team's medical staff is taking with Dwight Howard. The NBA's best big man is recovering from offseason back surgery, and he has yet to be cleared for game action per Andrew Kamenetzky of ESPN.

It's only preseason, so it isn't as if he's missing valuable games. Were this the regular season, his absence would obviously be more impacting.

Though the core group of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard needs some time to gel, they are all experienced veterans. That dynamic should help them to come together faster. The fact that Nash will be at the helm should also make the process easier.

A masterful distributor like Nash should have no problems getting an offense with so many weapons to produce. Bryant's recent comments about leadership on Facebook shows his commitment to winning. Bryant wrote:

Sometimes you must prioritize the success of the team ahead of how your own image is perceived. The ability to elevate those around you is more than simply sharing the ball or making teammates feel a certain level of comfort.

He knows in order for this team to be successful that there must be sacrifice.

The organization is already sacrificing the early adulation of fans. It must resist pushing its new star to appease the fans panting for a Howard sighting. The Lakers must ensure they don't damage things in the long term.

The team traded away an oft-injured but ultra-talented big man in Andrew Bynum to get Howard. The last thing they want to see happen is for Howard to miss a ton of games this season and, even worse, cause lingering issues.

The moment Howard started speaking of numbness in his legs, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, you knew this had to be a serious issue. The back is nothing to play with, especially for a big man. Howard shouldn't play until he is 100 percent ready for the physical grind of the NBA game—even if that means he has to miss some early regular season action.

The core of Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Antawn Jamison should be able to keep the team afloat.

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