|Dwight Howard says he will play with a smile in L.A. (US Presswire)|
Official: @dwighthoward WILL start tonight, making his Lakers debut at Staples vs. SAC.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 21, 2012
So it will finally happen. Dwight Howard will make his Lakers debut on Sunday night, Oct. 21, against the Sacramento Kings in a preseason game. And after a year of the Dwightmare, after all the nonsense, after back surgery that was supposed to keep him out months and instead will allow him to play in the preseason, Howard returns to professional basketball, this time in a Lakers jersey.
It's unlikely Howard will play extended minutes as he continues to recover, but he's not playing with any "minute restrictions." It will be the first time we see Howard, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant (and Pau Gasol) share the floor, which will be surreal.
The keys to watch are his general conditioning and how he operates in the pick and roll with Nash. He'll be guarded by a big, physical opponent in DeMarcus Cousins, but he should have a size advantage because, well, he always has a size advantage.
Howard hasn't played professional basketball in seven months. There was talk that he could be out until January or later and that the Lakers' title hopes would therefore be compromised. But as usual with Howard, the simplest explanation winds up true. He wound up with the Lakers, he returns in the preseason, and the Lakers' title challenge officially begins on Sunday night, even in preseason.
We'll keep you updated on how it works out for Howard in his debut with the Lakeshow.