LAS VEGAS — Everywhere he turns, Lakers center Dwight Howard has experienced a variance of what everybody’s seen on a family vacation.
Instead of hearing kids ask “Are we there yet” every five seconds in the back seat, Howard has fielded endless questions on when he’ll fully rehab from back surgery and return to the court. In the midst of a Yahoo! Sports report indicating he’s planning to return when the Lakers host the Sacramento Kings in a preseason game Sunday at Staples Center, Howard issued the same answer he’s heard to that never-ending question.
“There’s no information for me to provide,” Howard said before sitting out the Lakers’ preseason game Friday against Sacramento at the Thomas & Mack Center. “When I’m able to play, I’ll play. I’m looking forward to play. Hopefully I’ll be playing sooner than later, but there’s no statements that I’ve ever said that I’m going to play Sunday. I don’t want people to think that was the date set for me to come back. Somebody else put that out there.”
Laker fans shouldn’t arrive at Staples Center believing it’s a done deal Howard will step on the court Sunday against Sacramento in uniform. Lakers Coach Mike Brown said Howard will have to play in Saturday’s practice and receive medical clearance from the team’s training staff either after practice or following their team shootaround on Sunday. Howard didn’t participate in Friday’s shootaround, though he was already penciled out to play in Las Vegas. After Friday’s game, the Lakers play the Kings Sunday at Staples Center, the Clippers Oct. 24 at Staples Center and the Kings Oct. 25 in San Diego.
“I want to hopefully play a couple preseason games, at least one,” Howard said.
I think it’s very important for myself and for the team. But if the trainers don’t feel like I need to play right now, I won’t play. There’s no rush.”
Still, Howard understands why seemingly every fan, Twitter follower and reporter keeps pestering him with the same question about his playing status.
“People just want to see the new look Lakers,” Howard said. “The only thing I can control right now is what I do on the court and in practice, what I do in the weight room and what I do in the training room. I’m going to continue to do that. There’s no need to rush. What matters is being in the Finals. That’s the only thing that matters.”
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