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"Looking back on it, I could have sat out the whole season until now and started playing now," Howard told ESPN Los Angeles prior to the Lakers' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. "But I just felt like we had such a great opportunity, and some of these guys' window for winning is very small."
Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace are all north of age 30 and eyeing what could likely be their last real look at an NBA title. Howard was brought in as the final piece in what was almost certainly a championship-caliber team on paper.
But things haven't played out that way, and the Lakers are searching for continuity and a team identity in addition to fighting through numerous injuries to Howard, Nash, Gasol, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake.
There's also the issue of personnel when it comes to Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced, high-octane system. Given their age, the Lakers have had a tough time adjusting to his style of offense. Howard has also failed to fit in like he'd hoped, but continues to battle ailments in hopes of contributing in the postseason.