Lakers star center Dwight Howard was examined on Thursday after again aggravating his right shoulder injury, but he was cleared to resume playing immediately.
Howard hurt his shoulder in the second quarter of the Lakers’ 106-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday evening. Howard played less than 15 minutes in the loss and did not return following the half-time break.
Earlier in the month, Howard missed three games with a torn labrum in his right shoulder at the start of January. When Howard left the game on Wednesday, he clutched the same right shoulder, leaving fans holding their collective breaths.
The Lakers did not immediately consider Wednesday’s strain to be extremely serious, but Howard was not willing to make any promises about playing until his examination.
The exam revealed that Howard had not suffered any further damage to his right shoulder. As such, Howard was cleared to continue playing.
Howard left Wednesday’s game with the Lakers down nine points after starting the game 0-4 with two missed free throws, two rebounds, and only two points in the first half. He was not having the best night of his career when he pulled himself out of the game.
The Lakers’ defense has been a source of concern all season long, and Howard’s lack of mobility following back surgery has not helped the cause. Also, His attitude and lack of focus on defense has recently drawn criticism. Along with his slow recovery from the operation, Howard has recently become involved in trade rumors due to a tricky contract situation.
Howard’s current contract expires at the end of the season, and he can leave Los Angeles at the end this summer as an unrestricted free agent. The Lakers’ organization is hoping to secure Howard’s services with a five-year $100 million contract before the start of the 2013-14 season.
The current Lakers’ nightmare season, however, has opened the door slightly wider for Howard to leave at season’s end. As a result, trading away the three-time defensive player of the year is not entirely out of the question.