NEW YORK — Even though he categorized his aggravated right shoulder as “improving,” Dwight Howard said he won’t return when the Lakers play tonight against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
He also wouldn’t say whether he would play Thursday when the Lakers visit the Boston Celtics.
“I’m not in any rush,” Howard said after sitting out of the team’s morning shootaround at New York Athletic Club. “I don’t wan to reinjure it. I want to make sure it heals up.”
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni tried downplaying reports that indicated he and the coaching staff believe Howard needs to simply toughen up. Nonetheless, D’Antoni and other assistants in recent days have talked more about Howard needing to make adjustments and playing through the pain than staying patient with his recovery.
“He’s got the pain,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t have the pain. I wish he could play. If he doesn’t play, I go, ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t play.’ I wish he would.”
But Howard maintains that won’t happen until it’s completely healthy. He’s already aggravated his shoulder three times in the past month. Howard’s back surgery last season partly stemmed from playing through the pain, which only made it worse.
“It’s my career,” Howard said. “There’s no need for me to prove anything to anyone.”
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