“I want to play,” Howard said after participating in shoot around in advance of the ‘ game against the on Thursday. “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.”
Howard is considered a game-time decision; he has missed the past three games after aggravating a torn labrum in his right shoulder in the Lakers’ 92-86 loss to the at the start of their current seven-game road trip.
“That’s his opinion, that’s it,” Howard said. “He’s not a doctor, I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion.”
“There’s an urgency to be out there, but it’s not at the cost of making his shoulder worse,” Bryant said after shoot around. “I’ve always said if he was healthy enough to play and there was a situation where he wasn’t going to make it any worse then he should be playing.
There should be urgency about that, but I don’t think I said anything that was different [than what I said before].”
Bryant wasn’t the only one of Howard’s teammates to clamor for the All-Star center’s return, however.
“I think everyone has got to play through some pain in this league and I’m not sure where Dwight exactly with his [injury], but hopefully he’s ready to come back soon,” said. “I think it’s inevitable he’s going to feel some discomfort and pain.”
“He’s doing great and [he is] a great teammate,” World Peace said. “He’s out there, he had a couple 20-20 games and is averaging 18 and 11 or something like that playing hurt coming off that back surgery. I would say he’s a soldier and I’m not going to question his injury. He’s hurt to me. We have to go out there and we have to hold it down for him.”
Howard said that Gasol’s injury has not sped up his timetable to return and added that he feels he mishandled his back injury last season in Orlando, and that’s shaping how he deals with his shoulder this season.
“I don’t want that situation to happen again,” Howard said. “Last year I wanted to prove and show people that I can play through injuries, but the back is something serious and I don’t want that to happen again.”
Howard was asked if he could see his shoulder injury becoming worse if he gets back on the court.
“Yes, [with] the way I play,” Howard said. “The post is not an easy position. You’re pushing guys [who weigh] 260-270 [pounds] and you have to use a lot of force to do that. If I play tonight, we’ll see how I feel later on. If I don’t, we’ll just have to move forward.”
“If we just go out there and play team basketball, move bodies, help, hedge on screens, box out, sacrifice and at the end of the game it’s just going to be a team game and there’s five guys on the floor, so, I don’t think we have positions,” said World Peace, who could be asked to play some backup center along with rookie . “Kobe could be switched off on the center. It’s just five guys playing basketball at this point.”
D’Antoni said the decision on whether to play ultimately rests with Howard.
“I think he’s cleared [by the medical staff], but he’s cleared [fully] when the pain goes away, so he tells us when the pain goes away,” D’Antoni said.
D’Antoni said he has not had any discussions with team management about adding another big man in the interim with Gasol flying back to L.A. on Thursday morning to meet with Lakers team doctors as well as a specialist, but he plans to meet with general manager Mitch Kupchak in Miami on Saturday to talk things over.
Reprinted from Espn