Dwight Howard still can’t say when he’ll debut for the Lakers

Dwight Howard couldn’t say with any degree of certainty Monday afternoon when his surgically repaired back would be sound enough to allow him to make his Lakers debut. He also couldn’t offer a “percentage meter” for his back.

“I think that’s the new technology on the iPhone 6,” Howard said.

What’s more, he refuted a report last week on the Yahoo! Sports website that indicated he was aiming for a return for the Lakers’ season opener Oct. 30 against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.

“What?” the 6-foot-11 center said when asked about the story. “Who wrote that?”

Given the reporter’s name, Howard said, “Never talked to him.”

Howard, 26, underwent season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in April. There was no timetable for his return to fitness then, while he was still a member of the Orlando Magic, and there isn’t one now that he’s a member of the Lakers.

His debut in purple and gold has inspired much discussion and speculation.

Howard hasn’t been cleared for full-contact activities by a doctor and won’t scrimmage with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and the rest of his new teammates when they open training camp Tuesday morning in El Segundo.

Last week, the Lakers ruled him out of their exhibition opener Saturday.

“I just want to be 100 percent for the season,” said Howard, who has been undergoing rehabilitation exercises with the Lakers’ athletic training staff and participating in light one-on-one workouts with the assistant coaches.

“I don’t want to have any setbacks. I don’t want to play a couple of games and then have to sit down. I want to be able to play the whole season. I owe that to myself. I owe that to the fans and to my team. We all have one mission, one goal.

“And I want to be 100 percent for that.”

Howard said his back has improved markedly since his introductory press conference after the Lakers acquired him from the Magic in a blockbuster four-team trade that sent 7-foot center Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers on Aug. 10.

“I’m getting better every day,” Howard said during the Lakers’ annual media day Monday. “I’m getting stronger every day and I’m just looking forward to that day when I’m 100 percent. Until then, I’m going to keep training.

“I think from the last time you guys saw me (during his Aug. 10 press conference) to now, I look a lot different. I’ve been working extremely hard to get back on the court and I think we’re going to have an awesome year.”

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