McHale said during the Rockets' media day session he doesn't have a specific plan for number of minutes played or whether Howard will participate in back-to-backs, but team doctors and the strength and conditioning staff will play a significant role in determining what guidelines the team might use.
"We'd like to make sure he plays more games and like to make sure he's more healthy this year because he's a huge part of what we're doing and he is such a dominant force," McHale said.
Howard, 29, played in a career-low 41 games last season due to an assortment of injuries. He missed 26 consecutive games in a three-month stretch in the second half of the season with a right knee injury. When Howard returned, he didn't play in back-to-back games and his minutes were limited to no more than 20 until the late stages of the regular season.
Howard also sprained his left knee during the Western Conference finals last season but didn't miss any games.
"The main thing is, when I'm out there on the floor, I deliver the best effort I can for my teammates -- that's the most important thing," said Howard, who turns 30 on Dec. 8. "Rest and eating right is something I've been working on all summer, [and] making sure we stick to a good schedule. I trust our training staff and everybody is on the same page. When I'm on the floor, I'm going to give 100 percent, and when I have to sit down and rest, I will push [backup center] Clint Capela and the rest of those young guys to be the best that they can be for our team."
The Rockets have increased expectations for their team with point guard Ty Lawson now joining Howard and MVP candidate James Harden, and feel a completely healthy team could push them to title contention.
"We'll go and see how Dwight feels and think about managing his workload and figure out that is something we want to look at," McHale said. "We don't want to have Dwight miss [games]. We don't want to have that happen, especially starting out the season, and then a lot of that comes down to Dwight and how he feels, and eventually it's going to come down to how you feel and how your body responds to back-to-backs and to practices and with our training staff working with him."