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Report: Dwight Howard targeting opening night for return

Sep 29, 2012, 12:55 PM EDT

Dwight Howard, Mitch Kupchak AP

The Lakers have been completely silent about when Dwight Howard could return, refusing to give any timeline. Howard himself has been dead quiet on the subject, using the “I just want to get where I need to be” stuff. There has been talk of December, January, even Febuary for a possible return of the Lakers’ newest addition after back surgery to repair a herniated disc last spring. But now Yahoo! Sports reports something very different, and it could have a huge impact on the season.

Five months after back surgery, All-Star center Dwight Howard has targeted his Los Angeles Lakers debut for opening night of the 2012-13 season, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

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.

via Dwight Howard aiming to play in Lakers’ opener – Yahoo! Sports.

Howard being ready that soon could shift the West dramatically. At the very least, Howard being available for the entire season puts their probability at a top-two seed somewhere in the 80-90 percent range and gives them at the very least a pick ’em with the Thunder for the top spot. It means easier first-round series, more rest time, and a better path to the Finals.

There is, of course, the concern of rushing him back, and a possible step backwards. Howard has been shown to be impatient and impulsive, sometimes making decisions with his heart and not with his head. He seems committed to keeping himself in the best condition possible, but he’s obviously excited about the possibility of getting back on the floor and starting the year under Staples’ dimmed lights.

Lakers’ media day is Monday, and Howard can expect a barrage of questions on the subject, as can the rest of the Lakers’ starters. But where we thought it could be months before we see Howard dunking in Lakers gold, it could be a matter of weeks.

  1. rexgrossman8 - Sep 29, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Of course he is. He craves attention. His track record speaks for itself.

  2. 00maltliquor - Sep 29, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Whoa, whoa, whoa big guy! Take it easy, no need to rush things TOO fast!

    • damp1015 - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:29 AM

      Nah, let him rush it. Idiotic move, yet better for other teams in the West. And no, my team is in the East!

  3. hoodheisman - Sep 29, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Howard getting solid practice time with the new squad is probably the best indicator of when he’ll return to the court at this stage. With a new system and new teammates…. this isn’t exactly a flip-the-switch type situation. If he’s consistently getting practice reps during the preseason, then I’d be more inclined to believe that return date….

  4. dpeter11 - Sep 29, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    I hate Dwight Howard

    • money2long - Sep 29, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      and dwight doesn’t know you exist nor that you wrote that. so vent away !

  5. papichulo55 - Sep 29, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Memo to Dwight: You now play for the Lakers. You will be managed, just like one of the past and present Laker HOFers. Relax. Trust your new team. No need to rush things.

  6. joshm5683 - Sep 29, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    As a Lakers fan I’m excited about this possibility. I agree with what others say though, don’t rush back. Back injuries are pretty serious, its not like a broken finger or something. The fact that he is practicing with Lakers coaches already, even though its light work, not full practice, makes me think though that he is on the road to recover probably sooner rather than later.

  7. crtzinc - Sep 29, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    It’s all about the strength in his core to keep his back stabilized and the dude is a freak of nature so I am sure his core is strong now. I had the same surgery on the same L4 and L5 spots at around the same age so I know exactly where he is at. After 5 months mainly you have to be more careful when lifting weights but getting back to basketball should be the easy part. I say it’s a good bet he is there opening night, it’s not more of a risk than anyone playing ball at that point.

  8. jaymzifer - Sep 29, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Sadly very few people in LA will get to see the game, or any others til they go ESPN/TNT/ABC later in season. Thanks to the new TV deal that gives on cable company a monopoly on their games. Oh well, looks like lots of trips to sports bars.

  9. Little Earthquake - Sep 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    Report: Dwight Howard’s MCL and ACL planning simultaneous tears in Week 3.

  10. anderds1 - Sep 29, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    The difference between the Lakers and the Magic……the PR department. There should be no reason Howard couldn’t come back by opening night. The Magic PR department throws out the “He’ll be ready for opening night.” The Lakers PR department throws out “He may not be ready for a few months after opening night.” Soooo, when Howard walks out on the floor for opening night, everyone forgets about all his back and forth with the Magic and marvels at “Superman getting back on the floor”.

  11. omniusprime - Sep 30, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    I sure hope that Howard will be ready for opening night or shortly thereafter. I hope Yahoo Sports has some credibility. I’m so looking forward to the Lakers taking back what rightfully belongs to them in June, the NBA championship! Go Lakers!

  12. echech88 - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Easy there Dwight. If I’m OK with you shooting for 12/1, you can be too.

  13. boppinbob47 - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Hope the Lakers let the docs and trainers make this decision not the player who changes his mind every other day.

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