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Dwight Howard says he could have sat out season until now

Mar 5, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

In Chicago, where Derrick Rose is both the present and the future, he has yet to set foot on the court as he recovers from an ACL injury. Neither Rose nor the Bulls want to risk the long-term for some regular season games, even if it costs the Bulls a season.

Dwight Howard went a different direction. He rushed back from back surgery because he had been traded to the Lakers — a team that before the season was considered by nearly everyone a title contender. Instead, the Lakers are a .500 team struggling to get in the playoff mix and Howard has come under scrutiny for sub-par play.

Howard talked about his decision to play from the start of the season and the pressure that came with that to the Los Angeles Times.

“Looking back on it, I could have sat out the whole season until now and starting playing now, but I just felt like we had such a great opportunity,” he said. “Some of these guys, their windows for winning is very small and I just wanted to get back and try to do whatever I can to help this team, knowing that I wasn’t in great shape. My body wasn’t all the way there yet….

“Sometimes I have gotten beat up for it, but that’s fine. I’ll take all those hits and I’ll keep moving,” Howard said. “People watch games and they see me playing so they think it’s all good. It’s just a time thing. I’ve just got to keep going, keep pushing myself and it’ll get better.”

Howard didn’t want to talk about what he should have done or if he should have waited — like most athletes he doesn’t want to live in a world of “what if” and regrets. He made his decision; he’s living with it.

It was a very different situation with different pressures than Chicago faced, but the Lakers and Howard should have taken a little something from Rose’s playbook.

Watching Howard play at the start of this season, it was clear he should have waited a while. What made Howard a special big man was how he moved — he could hedge out and recover on a pick-and-roll better than any big in the game a couple years ago. Now he was slow, late on rotations, struggling with the moves he seemed to make effortlessly in the past.  Add to that the Lakers radical switch in offensive identities he couldn’t get any solid footing in hs game. It took time. But because of how the Lakers were formed and the age of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash — because of the Lakers impatience — there was no time granted.

This summer the Lakers will almost certainly re-sign Howard, they will alter the roster (hello Pau Gasol trade) and come back next year closer to the team we expected this season.

But next season there will be even less patience around the Lakers as it could be Kobe’s last season.

  1. dalucks - Mar 5, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    So he is still damaged goods? Brad Daughtery 2.0.

  2. dirtydavis - Mar 5, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Awwwww!!! He does care

  3. crtzinc - Mar 5, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    What’s crazy is that even at less than 100%, statistically speaking he is still up there for Defensive Player of the Year. He is the only one top 5 in both rebounds and blocks. If Lakers make the playoffs he may very well win it. Many pundits still consider this a down year for Dwight even coming back early from injury, which is amazing in itself.

    • illegalblues - Mar 5, 2013 at 8:07 PM

      boards and blocks and the dude is still a matador in the paint. how does he do it

  4. eventhorizon04 - Mar 5, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    Frankly, he didn’t have much of a choice. As Dwight said, the Lakers window with this core is only a couple of years, so if he wanted to help Nash win his first ring and Kobe to win his 6th ring, there had to be a sense of urgency.

    I’m sure when he came back early from injury, he thought that would be the difference between the Lakers fighting for the #1 seed with him playing all year versus a middle-seed if he missed half the year.
    Instead, the Lakers are fighting for the 8th seed, and without Dwight, the Lakers would be starting Robert Sacre at center.

    It is what it is.

  5. tsi431 - Mar 5, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Say what you want. The Lakers options were Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard. The right decision was made, no argument necessary.

    • dko83 - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Hard to argue with this.

    • themars211 - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:04 PM

      I could not have said that any better. Both Bynum and Howard are in contract years and pretty much had the same thing to lose or gain. Howard choose to play hurt and deal with bs that comes with playing well below his normal level. Bynum chose to go bowling and mess up his surgically repaired knee. Nothing else needs to be said about this trade being a bad one for the Lakers. I actually have a new level of respect for D. Howard.

  6. miamatt - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    Um, hasn’t he sat out the season until now? Just checkin’…

    • davidly - Mar 6, 2013 at 4:19 AM

      Did you make up that “um” thing at the beginning of a comment to express your incredulity? Hilarious.

  7. mungman69 - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    Hey Lakers, you want Bynam back?

    • money2long - Mar 6, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      i hate when people spell his name like this, not cuz it’s spelled wrong, because it just sounds so weird as you read the wrong spelling pronunciation in your head. it’s NUM, NUM, NUM. that is how the last part of his name sounds. BY-NUM. like num-ber. not NAM. it’s by-NUM. nam sounds so weird as i read that in my head.

      ok, sorry.

  8. psung26 - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    With Dwight’s reasoning, Kobe could’ve sat out for maybe 4 out of his 17 years in the league… but the Mamba doesn’t show weakness and never holds an excuse. Dwight will take the next step once he adopts the same attitude.

  9. kb2408 - Mar 5, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    So long, Pau…hello, Kevin Love. If not Love, Josh Smith.

  10. baymac408 - Mar 5, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    Man Dwight would be so much cooler as a person if he didn’t play for the lakers… Lol

  11. BigBeachBall - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    He should avoid the whole dantoni, nash, kobe clusterfack altogether…

  12. fanz928 - Mar 6, 2013 at 2:40 AM

    Go tell your coach to get a copy of Stan van gundy’s playbook

  13. davidly - Mar 6, 2013 at 4:26 AM

    The instructive parallel between Philly and LA, neither of whom is headed anywhere, and Howard is only hurting himself and risking his future health. Yet, gaging the responses here, it would seem the that paunch-endowed computer tapper type think that it is better when an athlete risks his potential for the team.

  14. omniusprime - Mar 6, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    As always Kurt Helin shows us what a moron he is whining for the Lakers to trade away Pau Gasol! Kurt you have no clue about NBA basketball if you think the Lakers should trade away Pau instead of Trash Nash and Steve Flake. Then again that’s why you’re just a lowly sports pundit instead of doing a real job.

    At least Dwight Howard decided to play this season despite not being 100% healed, so unlike Bynum or sissy Rose. I give Howard kudos for gutting it out rather than folding up his tent like Bynum and sissy Rose have done. At least Howard didn’t injure himself further bowling like Bynum did.

    If Howard stays and Dumbtoni, Trash Nash and Steve Flake leave so we can get a real coach and a great young point guard like Kyrie Irving then the Lakers have a chance at a title next season. If the three deadbeats stay the Lakers have no chance whatsoever.

    Thanks Dr. Buss, Rest in Peace!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake!!!

  15. joebone - Mar 6, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Typical locker room cancer: pats self on the back for playing hurt for the good of the team; acts like he doesn’t understand what the fuss is all about. He may have great numbers, but he’s certainly not a team guy. And he’s not a classy guy. And he’s not a particularly interesting interview; used to be sort of funny, but now he’s just lame. Basically just a self-infatuated jerk. Hard to see any team winning anything with him around at this point.

  16. houstonoilers - Mar 6, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    That is a good wish with Howard sitting out the whole year, It’s not too late, finish the season at home, he sure hasn’t helped any.

  17. finatic001 - Mar 6, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    There’s one good thing the Magic can say is they got best of his years because whether he stays with Lakers or he goes whoever has him will get his worst years.

    • money2long - Mar 6, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      hahaha WRONG.
      dwight hasn’t reached his prime yet.

  18. churchillone - Mar 6, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Hasn’t he sat out this season already? I thought he was still in Orlando. Or he was playing in China. Maybe this isn’t the real Dwight Howard….LOL….. Will the Real DwightMare please stand up?

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