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Report: Dwight Howard flip-flops again, will not opt-in with Magic

Mar 14, 2012, 8:54 PM EDT

Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard gestures during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston Reuters

Dwight Howard has handled his exit from Orlando about as poorly as one person can. He has made LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony look smooth.

And it will be an exit from Orlando now. You can bet after today the Magic are burning up the phones in an effort to get a deal done before Thursday’s 3 p.m. eastern deadline.

After earlier in the day telling a few teammates and members of the Magic management that he would not exercise his option and “opt-in” to stay with the Magic next season, Howard has changed his mind again according to Marc Stein at ESPN and multiple other reports. He would not sign the papers that took his option off the table.

In a Wednesday night conference call with Orlando Magic officials before the team’s game in San Antonio, Dwight Howard told the Magic that he is not prepared to surrender the option to become a free agent at season’s end, according to sources with knowledge of the discussion…

During the call, sources said, Howard told the Magic that staying in Orlando is his first choice. But he also made it clear that he was not prepared to relinquish the (Early Termination Option) ETO in his contract that allows him to become a free agent.

Dwight, Dwight, Dwight. I know it’s an election year, but you just can’t come off as flip-flopping like this. It gets politicians, and it’s going to get you.

When asked why Howard told several teammates and members of the organization earlier in the day that he had indeed decided not to opt out of his contract, the source insisted that Howard “didn’t fully understand the ramifications” of surrendering his ETO and did so largely because Magic officials warned him that he would be traded by Thursday’s 3 p.m. trading deadline if he did not take that step.

Orlando is now going to work hard to trade him before the deadline. I’d expect him to be moved — and not necessarily to the Nets or a place he wants. The Magic will not make the best move for the Magic without concern for Howard.

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