Dwight Howard underwent back surgery last April. He's had the entire summer to recover, and last week he was cleared for full practice. However, Howard will not play in the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. The center has not been completely cleared for game action.
According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times, Howard is pain free, but the team will exercise caution before allowing Howard to play in a game. Coach Mike Brown says the team has Howard's long-term future in mind and will play it safe even though he has not experienced any setbacks.
"I want to play, but at the same time I want to make sure I'm in good shape," Howard said at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "There's no pain in my back. The biggest thing is trying to be in shape."The team has discussed specific return dates for Howard, says Medina. But Brown decline to discuss the specifics.
Howard came to Los Angeles in a blockbuster trade in August. This came after months of speculation about where Howard would end up and whether he would actually be traded. Howard has spent his entire career with the Orlando Magic, but he was unhappy with the direction of the team.
The Lakers are getting a superstar in Howard. The 26-year old is a perennial All-Star and has averaged 18.4 points per game in his career. However, his offense has not been the best thing Howard brings to the court. Howard's defense is perhaps his best quality. He has averaged 13 rebounds per game and 2.2 blocks per game. Last season, Howard averaged 14.5 rebounds per game and 2.1 blocks.
Howard's injury is not expected to impact the regular season. His addition to the Lakers could be huge in their chances for another NBA title. He brings a level of defense the team has not had in quite some time. And his offense has improved immensely.