All that's left to be taken from Howard's time in L.A. are lessons in team-building and star alignment, reminders that personality fits are so crucial to success. The Lakers should have known that from the Shaq-Kobe days. Maybe they fooled themselves into believing that Shaq and Kobe's ability to tolerate each other long enough to win three championships could be duplicated in another awkward relationship.
Howard's time with the Lakers damaged both brands. He doesn't pop up in ad campaigns as often, and he has fallen out of the daily NBA discussion. By leaving, he put to rest the notion that stars always remain in Los Angeles if it's up to them. Not even the "Stay" billboards, so unbecoming of a franchise of the Lakers' stature, worked.
The only saving grace for the Lakers is they had enough stability that Howard's departure didn't lead to upheaval. There wasn't as much devastation left in the wake as, say, Cleveland, where the Cavaliers have dismissed two general managers and two coaches (although they brought one of the coaches back) in the four years since LeBron James last wore their uniform.
Howard didn't wreak havoc on the Lakers. They didn't derail his career, either. Maybe those are the only kind things to be said about the exchange.
Maybe the less said, the better.