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Report: Skeptical Magic give Howard end-of-day ultimatum

By TNT Analyst David Aldridge
Posted Mar 14 2012 5:48PM

The Orlando Magic, unsure about the intentions of franchise player Dwight Howard -- who told teammates Wednesday morning he planned to "opt in" and play the final year of his contract -- have told Howard he has to get that paperwork into the NBA office by the end of the day, according to a source. Otherwise, the Magic will proceed with potential trade discussions before Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline.

Howard, who has long been expected to opt out of the last year (2012-13) of his deal and become a free agent at season's end, said after Tuesday's game with Miami that he wanted to stay with the Magic through the end of the season. It was the first time that Howard -- who asked to be traded during training camp -- had expressed any desire to stay in Orlando, which has been trying for weeks to convince him to stay.

The request was a "complete surprise" to the Magic, according to a league source. So was Wednesday's declaration.

But Orlando is not convinced Howard genuinely wants to stay.

The Magic have asked Howard for months to commit just to playing next year. His sudden acquiescence, a day before the trade deadline, is being viewed skeptically by the Magic -- hence the demand that both Howard and agent Dan Fegan sign by Wednesday evening.

The Magic "can't roll the dice," the league source said.

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