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Dwight Howard injury update: Lakers won't commit to star's return Sunday

Rumors have been swirling that Dwight Howard will make his Los Angeles Lakers debut on Sunday in a preseason game versus the Sacramento Kings, but the team has slowed down the fast-moving hype machine. While Sunday remains a possibility for Howard's return from back surgery, the Lakers won't commit to his playing, citing his lack of conditioning:

The good news for the Lakers is that Howard's back seems to have healed just fine. He has been participating in full contact 5-on-5 practice and has the go-ahead to play in games once his conditioning is up to par. The concern right now is that he could injure something else if he plays before he is in game shape.

If he does not play on Sunday, the next chance for him to get on the court will be on Wednesday in a preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers' regular season opener is Oct. 30 versus the Dallas Mavericks.

Howard underwent surgery in April to repair a herniated disk in his back and at one point there was concern that he wouldn't recover in time to play in the season opener. That does not appear to be the case anymore, but he will have an abbreviated preseason so it might take him some time to catch up.

Howard averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds in 38.3 minutes per game last year. Alongside Pau Gasol, he is expected to give L.A. the NBA's most dominant front court and a chance to unseat the Miami Heat as NBA champions.