Denton: Howard Tells Teammates He's Committed to Magic Through Next Season

By John Denton
March 14, 2012

ORLANDO – Continuing with Tuesday night’s admission that he wants to remain with the only NBA team he’s ever played for, all-star center Dwight Howard informed his Orlando Magic teammates on Wednesday that he was committed to the team through next season, according to sources familiar with Howard’s address.

Still at issue is Howard signing a waiver that would void the Early Termination Option in his contract. Previously, Howard planned to exercise his opt-out clause in his contract and become an unrestricted free agent in July. The Magic will demand that Howard and his representative, Dan Fegan, sign the waiver prior to Thursday’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline.

If they have no assurance that Howard will sign the waiver, the Magic could still pursue a trade for the six-time all-star center if they fear losing him this summer with no compensation.

The Magic had a team meeting at their hotel in San Antonio on midday Wednesday and that’s when Howard informed his teammates that he wanted to remain with the team through this season and next, according to sources. The Magic face the Spurs Wednesday night at 8 p.m.

Howard reversal is shocking considering that he requested a trade prior to the season and reaffirmed his desire to leave on several instances. But after numerous conversations with Magic owner Rich DeVos, chairman Dan DeVos, CEO Alex Martins and President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith, Howard has apparently had a change of heart.

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.’’

Howard followed up his 24-point, 25-point hammering of the rival Miami Heat on Tuesday night by saying that he had informed the Magic that he wanted to stay with the team through the rest of the season. The Magic defeated Miami 104-98 in overtime on Tuesday night to improve to 28-15, third in the Eastern Conference.

``I’ve been telling (Magic management) for the past two or three weeks that I want to stay and finish the season,’’ Dwight said. ``I told them I feel we have a great opportunity to win and I told them that I want to be here and I want to bring a championship here. I told them they’ve got to give me that chance.

``They didn’t trade me at the beginning of the season and I told them I’d go out and play as hard as I could every night to put our team in a position to win,’’ Dwight added.

``We’re third in the East and playing great basketball. I don’t want to see that slip away. We have to take a chance and I think we have a great chance to surprise a lot of people by winning.’’

Howard’s 20/20 effort on Tuesday was a milestone moment for him. It was the eighth 20/20 game of the season for Howard and the 40th of his eight-year career with the Magic.

Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77 only four players have at least 40 20/20 games. Moses Malone had 109, while Hakeem Olajuwon had 42, Charles Barkley had 41 and Howard has 40.

Howard sounded very much like a player committed to Orlando’s pursuit of a championship this season. And after the Magic defeated Chicago, Indiana and Miami in the past three games he feels as though the team is on the right track.

``We’re playing some pretty good basketball and we have to keep it up,’’ Howard said. ``We haven’t allowed anything to get between us. The locker room is great and we step on the court we’re together. It’s been showing with our team. We’ve played some tough teams and we beat them all.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.





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