In what can only be music to Lakers’ fans’ ears, Dwight Howard has been cleared for full contact in 5 on 5 scrimmages. Mike Trudell of Lakers.com has the update:
Marking the next step of his rehabilitation process from back surgery in April, Dwight Howard was cleared on Tuesday for full contact, 5-on-5 scrimmages with his teammates. With that clearance came a minutes limit for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, as he’ll work back in steadily instead of all at once. Howard had previously participated in 5-on-5-on-5 drills, but had been kept out of full 5-on-5 scrimmages.
With this hurdle now cleared and assuming no set backs, it’s only a matter of time before Howard is cleared to participate in game action. This makes it extremely likely that Howard will be ready for the start of the regular season on October 30th and maybe even sooner (allowing him to play in one, or more, of the Lakers’ preseason games). Again, this is fantastic news especially with Jordan Hill now on the shelf with his own back issues.
Of course, the Lakers will still plan to take it slow with Howard and not rush him back — a philosophy I’m on board with one hundred percent. While it’s important for Howard to find a chemistry with his new mates, we mustn’t forget that he has been participating in offensive and defensive drills since the beginning of camp to the point that Mike Brown remarked, “As much as he’s practicing, to me, he’s back.”
So, even though Howard back-tracked somewhat in stating that he’s not necessarily looking towards playing in the preseason as a goal, it’s very nice to hear that he continues to progress and get closer to being ready to play in real game action — whatever that timeline turns out to be.