Howard is currently a game-time decision for L.A.'s game against Boston on Thursday night. After participating in the team's shoot-around on Thursday morning, Howard talked about his decision-making process (courtesy of Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA):
"I want to play," Howard said. "I mean, why wouldn't I want to play? But, at the same time, this is my career, this is my future, this is my life. I can't leave that up to anybody else because nobody else is going to take care of me. So, if people are pissed off that I don't play or if I do play, whatever it may be, so what? This is my career. If I go down, then what? Everybody's life is going to go on. I don't want to have another summer where I'm rehabbing and trying to get healthy again. I want to come back and have another great year. That's what I want to do."
It's a difficult situation for everyone involved. Howard has missed the last three games with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, the same injury that has kept him out of six games this year. He's also still recovering from off-season back surgery which has robbed him of much of the athleticism that made him such a dominant player.
However, with Pau Gasol sidelined for at least six weeks with a foot injury, the Lakers need Howard manning the middle, even if he's nowhere near 100 percent.
Silver Screen And Roll, SB Nation's Lakers blog, has an in-depth look at how the team responded to Gasol's injury on Tuesday here.
For Kobe, who is nearing the end of his career, this season is one of his last chances to win another championship, so it's no surprise that he's pushing Howard to return to the floor as soon as possible.
Howard, though, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. At the age of 27, he should be entering the prime of his career. Instead, he's been dealing with debilitating injuries as well as constant off-the-court melodrama for almost two years now.
No matter what happens, it appears that the circus surrounding the Lakers won't be coming to an end anytime soon.