Dwight Howard participated in his first practice with the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, going through a lengthy workout with no apparent concerns about his surgically repaired back.
Howard worked out with the Lakers’ new starting five during much of the afternoon practice at the Lakers’ training complex in El Segundo, Calif., running offensive drills with Steve Nash and playing a little one-on-one against Pau Gasol. After finishing up the workout with drills in the Lakers’ new Princeton-influenced offense, he got a few quick pointers from Kobe Bryant.
Howard’s performance was encouraging to the Lakers, who are being careful with their new franchise center five months after surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back.
‘‘I didn’t surprise myself,’’ Howard said. ‘‘I've been working hard to get on the court. I want to continue to work hard, and we haven’t had any setbacks, so I want to continue to do whatever I can to get on the court.’’
The six-time All-Star center hasn’t committed to any timetable for his debut with the Lakers, who acquired him in a four-team trade in August. The Lakers already have announced Howard won’t play in their first preseason game in Fresno against Golden State Sunday night, but Howard sounds determined to suit up with his teammates at some point before the regular season opener Oct. 30 against Dallas.
‘‘Hopefully I'll be back for some preseason games,’’ Howard said. ‘‘I think we’re going to need it for chemistry and all that stuff, but like I said, I'm not going to rush. I'm going to continue to practice.
“We've had some great practices. Today was really good, so I'm happy.’’
Howard has been working out six days a week at the Lakers’ training complex to prepare for the season under the watch of the club’s medical staff and his own team.
The results are promising to his teammates, who were impressed by Howard’s fitness in his first team action.
Howard participated in three-on-three, two-on-two, and one-on-one drills with the Lakers, who didn’t run any drills with serious contact or 5-on-5 scrimmages.
‘‘He worked just as much as anybody else, so that was good,’’ Gasol said. ‘‘I didn’t expect that to happen today. He’s a great player, a tremendous force, and it feels good to have him here.’’
Howard knows the Lakers have plenty of work to do if they hope to grasp the new offensive concepts being installed by veteran assistant coach Eddie Jordan. Bryant, who already sees Howard picking up the offense, is grateful to see evidence of Howard’s work ethic in his first day.
‘‘It was very beneficial,’’ Bryant said. ‘‘Even though he can’t really do anything that’s contact-related, he’s still able to go through all the drills offensively, and the schemes we want to do, and kind of work through the Princeton offense, so it was very productive.’’
Bynum a spectator
As expected, Andrew Bynum was reduced to an All-Star bench player at the first day of Sixers training camp because of his knee woes. He participated in some light workouts, then took a seat on the bleachers behind Doug Collins, watching nonplussed as the third-year Sixers coach directed the season’s first scrimmage.
The preseason will go on without Bynum. The Sixers ran a full-court scrimmage, complete with refs, with Bynum not much more than a sideline observer. The Sixers are resting the center for three weeks as precaution after he received knee treatment in Germany.
The Sixers remained optimistic that Bynum, acquired from Los Angeles as part of a four-team trade, will return in time for the Oct. 31 opener against Denver.
But the Sixers will play preseason games, gameplan, and scrimmage all without their biggest presence. That can only complicate the next month for a franchise that has designs on a deep playoff run.
The party line on Bynum at the first day of camp at Saint Joseph’s was, better now than later.
‘‘It’s not frustrating, but it does complicate things a lot for us,’’ forward Thaddeus Young said.