Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard will not be ready for the team’s preseason opener due to ongoing issues with his surgically repaired back.
On Thursday night, the team confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Howard – the prize acquisition of the NBA offseason – is not expected to be ready when the Lakers open camp Oct. 2 or when they play their preseason opener five days later vs. Golden State at Fresno.
The timetable is actually more optimistic than one laid out by Howard, who last month said he may not be available for the regular season opener Oct. 30 vs. Dallas.
Howard had surgery in April to repair a herniated disk in his back. He spent the summer in Los Angeles undergoing rehabilitation while the Orlando Magic explored trade options for their disenchanted superstar.
The Magic saw potential blockbuster trades with Brooklyn, Houston and LA scuttled before putting together a four-team deal that sent Howard to the Lakers, who sent Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers, who sent Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets.
The Magic received a collection of young players and draft picks from all three teams, and new GM Rob Hennigan was criticized for not getting enough in return for the game’s most impactful defensive presence and a top-five player.
Now the Lakers may be wondering what they got in the deal. Having already acquired All-Star point guard Steve Nash, the acquisition of Howard alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol immediately put the Lakers back in the championship conversation, with some folks predicting a 70-win season.
Without Howard, LA’s options at center include the 7-foot Gasol, 6-10 Jordan Hill and 7-foot rookie Robert Sacre.