In late December, Orlando Magic star center Dwight Howard asked for a trade to the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks, or Los Angeles Lakers. Since that time, not much has been revealed other than the fact that the Magic were trying to convince Howard to stay. However, with two days remaining before the trade deadline, reports and comments intensified this confusing situation.
While Howard had requested a trade, he repeatedly said that he was still torn about whether or not he actually wanted to leave Orlando and the franchise that drafted him in 2004. He also continued to say that things had not changed in regard to his trade request. After Tuesday night’s overtime win over the Miami Heat in what could be Howard’s final game in Orlando for the Magic, Howard shocked everyone. The center told reporters that he has told Magic management that he does not want to be traded this season. He said he wanted the Magic to keep him and “roll the dice”.
It’s not surprising that Howard doesn’t want traded this season. The team he is currently on sits third in the Eastern Conference with a 28-15 record while the team he is likely to be traded to, New Jersey, is 14-29 with no chance to make the postseason. What was surprising was that Howard spoke at all about his contract. Ever since Alex Martins took over as Magic CEO following the retirement of Bob Vander Weide, Martins and Howard have been meeting regularly to discuss the situation. Both agreed that what was said in those meeting was to be kept confidential. This comment by Howard was even more startling as earlier in the day, reports had come out saying that Howard had already made his decision and that he would go to the Nets whether the Magic traded him or not.
On Wednesday reports began to surface which twisted the situation even more. According to “sources” Wednesday, Howard had told teammates and the Magic front office that he was planning to waive his early termination option which would give Howard the option to become a free agent on July 1. The reports said that he planned on remaining with the Magic through the 2012-13 season at which time he would become a free agent. The Magic reportedly would keep Howard if he committed to the franchise through next season.
With this breaking news, it seemed as though Howard was going to remain in Orlando. In order for this to be official, Howard and his agent, Dan Fegan, would have to sign documentation waiving the option to become a free agent on July 1. Shortly before the Magic played in San Antonio, a Magic spokesperson confirmed a new report that Howard has told the team that he will not waive his early termination option.
With the NBA trade deadline coming at 3:00 pm Thursday, nobody really knows where Dwight Howard will be playing after Wednesday night’s game. If he does decide to waive his early termination option by Thursday afternoon, Howard will remain in Orlando at least through next season. If not, he will almost certainly be traded. To add another twist to this story, the next game for Orlando will be Friday night at the Amway Center when the Magic host the New Jersey Nets, the team most likely to trade for Howard.