Denton: Trade Deadline Day Arrives for Howard, Magic

By John Denton
March 14, 2012

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic head into Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline in a precarious spot after superstar center Dwight Howard declined to waive the opt-out clause in his contract and still intends to become a free agent in July.

That could very well lead to the Magic trading the six-time all-star and five-time All-NBA performer today so that they ensure themselves of getting compensation. In what could have very well been his last game with the only franchise he’s ever played for in the NBA, Howard had 22 points and 11 rebounds in the Magic’s 122-111 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

The New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers are believed to be the leading destinations for Howard to land because of the multi-player packages those teams could put together to ship to Orlando. Deals that would allow the Magic to shed some existing contracts are also especially appealing.

Whatever happens, it’s expected to go all the way up to the 3 p.m. trade deadline today.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that Howard told teammates at the Magic’s hotel in San Antonio that he had planned to remain with the team through the end of this season and next. To do that, Howard would have needed to sign a waiver with the team to renounce the opt-out clause in his contract. Magic spokesman Joel Glass confirmed Wednesday night that Howard did not plan to sign that waiver.

Howard shockingly revealed on Tuesday night that he hoped to stay with the Magic through the rest of the season. It was the first Howard had spoken of staying with the Magic through the rest of the season in months. And it went counter to his trade request prior to the season and his numerous claims throughout the season that his stance on wanting to be traded hadn’t changed.

Howard was asked Tuesday night if he had reconsidered his decision to remain with the Magic long term and he was noncommittal.

``That (future) doesn’t matter. This moment is what matters,’’ he said. ``We have a great opportunity here. These guys on this team are working hard to get better and we’ve got a good shot. Everybody is trusting in our captains, me and (point guard) Jameer (Nelson), and if we hit our peak at the right time nobody will be able to beat us.’’

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at

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