Five months after back surgery, Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard is targeting his Lakers debut for opening night of the 2012-13 season.
The Lakers open training camp on Tuesday and begin the regular season on Oct. 30 at home against the Dallas Mavericks. Howard has said that his back has returned to 85 percent strength. 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.
This news comes bit of a surprise as rumors suggested Howard would not only miss opening night but up to one month.
The Lakers have been reluctant to make public a timetable on Howard's return, and have maintained a cautious approach to protect his long-term health.
Howard has been working with Lakers coaches and trainers at the team's practice facility, and has shown an increased range of motion, but has yet to engage in five-on-five or significant contact situations.
Howard missed the final weeks of the season and playoffs for the Orlando Magic because of the surgery.
Howard was traded to the Lakers last month as part of a four-team deal after he indicated to the Magic he woudn't sign a long-term deal.