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Another reversal: Dwight Howard says he will opt-in with Magic

Mar 15, 2012, 7:35 AM EDT

Orlando Magic v New York Knicks AP

Orlando called Dwight Howard’s bluff — when he refused Wednesday afternoon to waive his Early Termination option (ETO, the thing that lets him opt out of his contract next summer) the Magic had enough of Howard’s “take a chance on me” game and worked the phones hard to trade him.

Orlando was done.

But Howard wasn’t — he wants to stay in Orlando and had another change of heart.

In an exclusive interview with Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM (who gets the scoop of the year) Howard says he will sign the papers to stay with the Magic.

“Man, listen, you know my heart, my soul and everything I have is in Orlando,” Howard told RealGM. “I just can’t leave it behind.”

Orlando officials will believe it when they have the signed paper in their hands, but other sources have confirmed this is Howard’s plan. He said he would sign the ETO waiver first thing Thursday morning.

From the start Orlando officials believed Howard wanted to stay in the team but it was advisors around him — agent Dan Fegan and others — who were pushing him to be a free agent. (Fegan did not put together Howard’s current contract, so he had incentive to want a new one and get paid).

Howard essentially confirmed that.

“I have gotten some bad advice,” Howard said. “I apologize for this circus I have caused to the fans of our city. They didn’t deserve none of this. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. I will do whatever I can to make this right and do what I was put in Orlando to do…

“This has been a very hard time,” Howard said. “For me, my family and all of us. The fans deserve a better hero and I will make that happen. I love and appreciate my fans and this city.”

For the Magic to accept the waiving of the ETO, both Howard and Fegan have to sign off on it. We’ll see how that goes, Fegan has talked Howard out of signing off on it before. But Howard seems certain this time. And there are hints Fegan could be on his way out.

If I were cynical about such matters — and I am — I would note that if Howard were traded to the Nets, a team well out of the playoffs, he would lose a large bonus from Adidas, as reported by ESPN.

Again, we’ll believe it when we see it, but he seems serious.

If he does sign to stay, how will the city of Orlando react? My guess is they will welcome him with open arms like the prodigal son.

However, Howard’s national reputation will take a hit for how poorly he handled the entire situation, giving mixed signals and changing his mind multiple times. He handled the decision making process worse than LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, but his end decision is likely to be one casual fans like better. How that all impacts his popularity is uncharted territory.

Remember that him opting in is a one-year thing — next trade deadline, if the Magic have not improved the roster to Howard’s satisfaction, we cold be right back in the same place. That is the most likely outcome. Howard would be a free agent in the class of 2013.

But for now, Howard appears committed to the Magic for another year.

  1. loungefly74 - Mar 15, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    i glad that he admitted he was getting bad advice. Howard is still young and impressionable. he needs to figure out what he wants and take that course. and i agree, this circus has tarnished his ultimate legacy.

  2. lucky5934 - Mar 15, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    Wow, someone has a fantastic PR guy on payroll. AND he is worth EVERY penny if he can clean this mess up to save face for Howard.

    • skids003 - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      Another exaample of the animals running the circus.

    • florida727 - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      No argument there. I think a lot of these kind of guys get “bad advice”. Once their talent surfaces, everybody they’ve known since kindergarden is looking for a way to hang-on and benefit. He needs an agent like he needs a second dick. Those guys are so self-serving it’s pathetic. They do virtually nothing. Hire a decent attorney to read over your contract and negotiate your own deal. Figuring out your worth with the restrictions the cap and CBA allows isn’t that hard to figure.

  3. burm61 - Mar 15, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    Just thought of this just now. Do Orlando fans ,if they had to choose, want a championship this year and be completely off the map for years and years to come or trade Howard now, get pieces back, and be a solid contender for awhile with no title guaranteed.

    • raidmagic - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:18 AM

      Yes, I’ll take a guaranteed championship this year. The issue with your thought is Howard wouldn’t leave if they won it all so they wouldn’t fall off the map after it. But yes, I’ve watched this team suck for years between Shaq and Howard so it will be easier to watch them suck with a championship in my pocket.

  4. boilerup1869 - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    I’d get rid of this piece of garbage. What an embarrassing series of events for Orlando and Dwight.

    Now he’s just manipulating Orlando’s front office so he can walk away from this clusterf*** claiming he wasn’t the bad guy and that he tried to work things out with the team.

    Honestly, Dwight, you are starting to make people forget just how ridiculous LeBron acted. Consider how bad you must look right now for that to be the case! Get ready for a few years of boos everytime you touch the ball, because you have done EVERYTHING wrong!

    • boilerup1869 - Mar 15, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      Why aren’t my comments being approved?

  5. aboogy123456 - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Don’t put Carmelo Anthony in the same boat as Dwight Howard and Lebron. He was honest the whole time, he really wanted to go to new york so he was good enough to his team to say that’s what they wanted. They were able to trade him for some real value, and now he’s where he wanted to be. What’s so bad about that?

    • florida727 - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      I agree. Carmelo, though forcing his way out of Denver, at least had the decency to make sure he didn’t leave the proverbial cupboard bare. If anything, he should be somewhat applauded for helping the Nuggets. He didn’t leave without them getting value in return.

      That said, nobody will EVER reach the level of arrogance and self-servitude as LeBum. I’m no Cleveland fan, and Dan Gilbert is an idiot if he thought a cartoon of LeBum and his friends would be enough of a “presentation” to get him to stay just because he grew up near there, but seriously, has anyone EVER screwed a team and city and handled the announcement of his choice to move elsewhere worse than that moron? Cannot believe how happy I was to see the Heat lose to the Bulls last night… WITHOUT Rose even playing :)

  6. philly4lyfe - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    “we cold be right back in the same place.”

    There are grammar and spelling mistakes in almost every article I read on this site. Did the editor take a permanent vacation or something? Most of your articles are only a couple paragraphs and it would take maybe a minute to read it over and check for mistakes. For how many people visit this site, I just think its extremely unprofessional. Take the necessary time to pot out a quality product.

    • drunkenjunk - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:53 AM

      na man, kurt is above editing.

    • jmclarkent - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:08 AM

      “Take the necessary time to pot out a quality product.”

      None of us are perfect :p

    • florida727 - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      You had me right up to the point where you “pot” the period on your last sentence. Well, maybe 5 words before that…

  7. emaimo80 - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    Yeah dont put Carmelo Anthony in the same sentence as Dwight and Lebron. He is not even half the player.

  8. spurstar210 - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Good job Dwight. If u have any doubts it will work out call David Robinson and Tim Duncan and ask how it worked out for them!

  9. obamablowz - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    This guy is not a game changer, he grabs some rebounds and is a terrible shooter. What is the hype with this idiot?

  10. mclayton31 - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    He’s the closest thing to a dominant center the league has. You don’t have to be a shooter when 75 percent of your field goals are putbacks

  11. stoutfiles - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    I don’t know why people compare this to what LeBron did.

    -Cleveland, incredibly desperate for a title
    -LeBron, was hometown hero and loved by all
    -Lied to team and made them sign bad contracts to please him
    -Lied to team so they couldn’t trade him for compensation
    -Stabbed them in the back on prime time national television

    Nothing comes close to what LeBron did and I doubt anything ever will.

    • jdub01984 - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      -Orlando, incredibly desperate for a title
      -Dwight, face of the franchise, loved by all
      -Lied to team and made them sign bad contracts to please him
      -Lied to team so they couldn’t trade him for compensation

      You are right, nothing like the Lebron situation, except the Magic aren’t owned by Dan GIlbert and called Howard’s bluff.

      • boilerup1869 - Mar 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        I would argue that Dwight is loved by all at this point.

      • stoutfiles - Mar 15, 2012 at 5:51 PM

        So if Howard had left we’d see people crying in bars and burning jerseys in the streets?

        Do not compare Cleveland to Orlando. Cleveland, the city, is a s***hole. The fans there live vicariously through their sports teams. Orlando fans can not begin to know what being a Cleveland fan is like.

        Dwight never actually lied, he’s just has the mentality of a little kid. He was never lying, and proved that today. LeBron knew exactly what he was doing, and just assumed everyone would keep on loving him. You must not have watched The Decision and understood how horrible that was for Cleveland fans.

  12. glink123 - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    Finally, a smart decision. Stay in Orlando. Great city. DeVos is freaking loaded with cash, and loves to spend it.

  13. bparmalee - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Please stop reporting (I use that term loosely) on this. The reporting on this reminds me of the “I had the upset!!” guy in the office pools…. he has every upset because he has 1000 different brackets with every possible outcome. Every person reporting this has predicted every different outcome…. sometimes in the same article. Thankfully it will all be over with today…..at least for a few months.

    • slowclyde86 - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      Pretty simple really…If you are not interested then don’t read the article. The headline (the one you clicked on) does, after all, give a pretty good indication of the article that follows. Sad fact of the modern NBA and worth reporting on. Good article.

      • bparmalee - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:54 AM

        The point I was making is every person has given every indication possible. There was a time when a good sports reporter would arrive at a an opinion… state it and stand by it. Now everyone wants to be “right” so they make sure they have every base covered. It’s lazy. As far as…. if you don’t like it don’t read it goes… How would I know unless I read it? I am on the site so obviously I am interested…. and yes I know what a headline is and what happens when I click on it. I just don’t think it’s too much to ask for today’s sports reports/bloggists to have an opinion that doesn’t shift by the hour. People say “the information shifts by the hour” and I would say that it doesn’t… in many cases it’s just reported that it has shifted. The race to be first has killed any sense of solid reporting. At least the comments save every article….. at least that keeps things fun.

      • stuckonwords - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        bparm…the thing is, this isn’t a prediction. You’re confusing a “report” with “an opinion column”. Howard did make these comments, and to not bother passing these very new, recent quotes on to the public would be a complete lack of “reporting”…and I don’t use that term loosely. The very definition of reporting is that when something new comes about, it gets reported. That’s exactly what happened here.

        The last I’d heard, last night, Howard had refused to sign the ETO waiver. Had these new statements of Howard’s not been reported, as you seem to think should’ve been the case, I’d be pretty dang ticked. Get a grip, dude; you’re not being insightful…you’re being inciteful.

  14. 700levelvet - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    For the love of God………Just shut the hell up….

  15. ras1tafari - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    Howard needs to take his talents to the south pole.

  16. jdub01984 - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Orlando should get the paperwork from Howard opting-in for the additional year and then promptly trade him. He’ll be valueable with the additional year on his contract.

  17. going4iton4th - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    The guy flip flop’s more than a politician and he has handled this worse then any of the other superstars before him. If I were in the Magics brain trust I would trade him and do so now. He’s drug the organization through the mud–it’s time for Orlando to stand up for their brand and put no player above the organization. You can’t have a guy holding your team hostage (Magic management screwed this up to with their responses to) no matter how high is skill level. Cut bait and collect what assests you can!

  18. palakerfan - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    The bad news? Us having to put up with “Where Will Dwight Go?” all over again next year. UGH!!!

  19. thraiderskin - Mar 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    wow… how do you keep up with this guy? I would think the Magic would be done with this guy on principle alone.

  20. jdub01984 - Mar 15, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    The report from an inside source is that Dwight is currently throwing a hissy fit cause he wanted to use the royal blue colored crayon in the box to sign his paperwork, but they only had navy blue.

  21. alexb64 - Mar 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    We do have to remember that most of these “men” are coddled & have their decisions made for them starting in their teens. Dwight Howard seems naive & easily influenced. I don’t think he’s a bad guy or in image control, I think the fact that he made the initial decision to waive his ETO yesterday before his agent clearly put the kabosh on it shows he did sincerely have regrets about what he was doing to Orlando. I think he probably didn’t sleep well last night & thought really hard about whether the image this was giving him was who he wanted to be & what he wanted fans to think of him. If he ends up leaving that’s still a personal decision that needs to be respected, but I think there’s nothing wrong or vain about what he’s doing now. He has at least decided he’s not going to be a man who goes back on his word.

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