Dwight Howard Reportedly Aiming To Play in Lakers’ Opener

by Ryne Nelson / @slaman10

Will Dwight Howard be ready for opening night?

The Lakers have taken a wait-and-see approach to Dwight’s recovery from back surgery, offering no specific timetable for his return.

But Dwight has made clear progress in recent weeks—working out with the Lakers and was dancing on Ellen last week. His back has “returned to 85 percent strength,” and Yahoo! reports that Howard is pushing to make it back for the Lakers’ season opener:

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.

Howard has privately indicated his back has returned to 85 percent strength, sources said. He had surgery for a herniated disc in April and still needs doctor’s clearance to engage in full training-camp activities with the Lakers. Los Angeles opens its training camp Tuesday.

It’s a somewhat surprising development, considering he hasn’t been cleared for five-on-five activities. But with a back that’s at 85 percent and a month left to rehab, Dwight might be fully healthy to start the season.