Lakers center Dwight Howard, clowning at Monday's media day, probably… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)
For the second consecutive day, Lakers center Dwight Howard showed flashes of his old self. He ran up and down the court. Howard worked on post moves in the offense. During the portion of Wednesday's morning practice open to the media, Howard even dunked.
But that doesn't mean he's ready to make the next step as he rehabs from back surgery. The Lakers have a two-hour practice scheduled Wednesday evening, including a live five-on-five scrimmage. Howard isn't expected to participate in that drill, which Lakers Coach Mike Brown said will mostly emphasize defensive concepts.
Still, Brown held out hope that could change very soon. When asked if Howard would play in the five-on-five scrimmage, Brown said, "I'll plan on him being there, but I'll also have a plan for it if he's not."
It's more likely that Howard will not. He hasn't been cleared yet to participate in five-on-five contact drills.
Howard's participation on Wednesday featured no contacts. Even though the Lakers played with contact Monday in one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three drills, the team's five-on-five sets didn't feature any defenses. During Wednesday's practice, assistant coach Darvin Ham gave Howard light contact after he caught entry passes in the post.
"I'm still trying to regain strength," Howard said. "I'm not playing until I'm 100%. Just because I'm doing drills with the team or running up and down, it doesn't mean I'm ready to play in a game. There's a difference between running up and down and being actually out there battling. When I'm 100% and able to go, then I'll go."
Howard said he was feeling "pretty good today."
The Lakers haven't offered a firm timetable on his return, other than penciling him out for the team's preseason opener Oct. 7 against Golden State. The team also has said Howard hasn't experienced any setbacks.
"I don't know when he's coming back, or whatever," Brown said. "As much as he's practicing, to me he's back. Just waiting for the doctors, trainers and Dwight to clear him. When that happens, he'll go full tilt. But he looks good out there."