Sources told ESPN.com that Howard is indeed traveling with the Rockets this week on a three-game trip with subsequent stops in Denver and Minnesota. But Howard has been ruled out of making his return against his old team.
Howard received a second shot in his sore left ankle last week and has missed Houston's past five games. But the Rockets' All-Star center has expressed confidence that the injury won't be an issue that lingers into the playoffs.
The Rockets are closing in on securing the West's No. 4 seed after recently clinching their first 50-win season since 2008-09. But they are being cautious with Howard, especially in the wake of the recent worrisome knee injury suffered by backcourt defensive ace Patrick Beverley.
Howard, remember, has lined up against the Lakers on the road this season when Houston visited Staples Center in February to play Howard's old team.