Despite being cleared to practice in full scrimmages, no date is set on when new Lakers superstar Dwight Howard will make his return. (Photo : Reuters)
While new Los Angeles Lakers star Dwight Howard is practicing for the first time in months, there is no word yet on when "Superman" will take flight for the first time this season.
After having surgery on his back during the offseason, the perennial All-Star, argued by many to be the best center in the league, was cleared Tuesday for limited five-on-five scrimmages with the Lakers.
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However, ESPN reported via the Associated Press Tuesday, the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year has yet to make his full recovery and will not be on the court Wednesday night when the Lakers meet the Portland Trail Blazers in preseason action.
*Correction - 12:44 p.m. EDT *.The former centerpiece of the Orlando Magic, Howard-a six-time All-Star, four-time rebounding champion and five-time All-NBA First Team member-made waves around the league when he arrived in Los Angeles in August via a blockbuster four-team swap involving the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets; the main piece in the deal being former Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who was sent to the 76ers. The Sixers sent Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets.
Prior to that, the controversial superstar, whose demand for a trade last season from Orlando drew heavy fire from fans in Orlando, underwent season-ending back surgery in April to repair a herniated disk in his lower back.
I'm getting there," Howard told the LA Times Tuesday of his recovery progress. "I'm getting better."
Prior to Tuesday, Howard was limited to practicing only in five-on-five drills.
Still, the Lakers organization appears to be ecstatic about Howard's recovery progress, referring to his clearance for five-on-five scrimmages a "milestone" for their new superstar's road to recovery.
"Howard had previously participated in 5-on-5 drills, but had been kept out of full 5-on-5 scrimmages," the Lakers explained in a press statement on their blog.
The main difference being that in five-on-five drills, three teams rotate in and out -with the team getting a defensive stop staying on the court - while in full scrimmages, full contact and game action takes place.
Of his current recovery goals, Howard said his main focus at the moment was getting his conditioning up to speed for the rigors of the 82-game regular season schedule.
"I'm trying to get my legs down and get into good shape so I can play," Howard said. "That's my main concern, getting my legs under me."
Despite his progress, Howard appeared to be anxious to return to full playing form, according to his comments in the LA Times.
"I didn't come here to play in practice and preseason," Howard said. "I'm here for one reason and that's to help us win a championship. There's no need for me to rush trying to get into a preseason game. My focus is getting 100 percent so when the season starts and it's go time, I'll be ready."
For more on Howard's recovery progress, and other action around the league, visit the NBA's official web site, NBA.com.