Dwight Howard: Lakers Must Limit Injured Star’s Minutes Until Back Is Healthy

The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Dwight Howard to give them a better chance of beating the Miami Heat in June, not the Dallas Mavericks in October. Keeping one of their newest stars healthy for the long haul should be the top priority in the early going.

Howard wasn't shy to admit his ailing back isn't back to full strength yet. Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times passed along some quotes from the talented big man, who knows there's still a lot of work left before he returns to peak performance.

"I would say now, if I was compared to a house, I have the foundation and the walls and everything but there's no carpet on the floor. There's no heating," Howard said. "Right now the foundation is there; that's what we're building on."

Even though it doesn't sound like he will have any initial limitations despite checking in at less than 100 percent, the Lakers would be wise to limit his minutes until he declares himself completely fit. He clearly doesn't believe he's at that point right now.

The Western Conference doesn't feature a ton of depth, meaning the Lakers should cruise into the playoffs barring some type of catastrophic meltdown. That means they can afford to treat Howard with kid gloves for the first few months.

He averaged over 36 minutes per game during his time with the Orlando Magic and topped the 38-minute mark in his final season with the franchise. Pushing him that hard right now would increase the chances of an immediate setback.

Head coach Mike Brown would be smart to take a page out of the San Antonio Spurs book and roll Howard's minutes back to around 28 per game. That's what Tim Duncan has played over the past two seasons to keep him healthy.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has also given Duncan games off simply to rest, knowing full well having the longtime superstar ready for the postseason is more important than any regular-season contest.

That's an...

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