Orlando, FL – Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has decided to remain with the team and won’t opt out of his contract this summer.
Howard had an early termination option in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent after the 2011-12 season. he had requested a trade back in December, before the start of the abbreviated season, and there was rampant speculation that he would be dealt by Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline if he did not sign a waiver that would void the early termination clause.
The six-time All-Star apparently vacillated back and forth on the issue, first telling the team on Wednesday that he would not sign the waiver. he apparently had a change of heart.
“I’m glad this is finally over with,” Howard said at a Thursday news conference. “It’s been very tough for me the past couple of months, to make this decision. I’ve gone back and forth and it’s not as easy as people think. It’s very hard, talking about a career-changing event.”
This entire situation could occur again next year, as the 26-year-old Howard has just one year remaining on his contract. he has, however, affirmed his love for the city and the only organization he has ever played for as a professional.
“One of the biggest reasons [I made the decision] is I’m too loyal,” Howard remarked. “I just love this city too much. I love the people, I love the organization. we have a chance to do something special. we have the opportunity to win a championship.”
Howard leads the Magic with averages of 21.2 points and 15.2 rebounds this season. Orlando enters Thursday’s play second in the Southeast Division with a record of 28-16.
“We want to thank [Dwight] for sticking with us in our mutual goal of winning an NBA championship,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins at the news conference. “I thank Dwight for trusting me, for trusting us. we think he’s the best player in the world and we think he and his teammates can lead us to an NBA championship.”
The Magic selected Howard with the first overall pick of the 2004 draft. he is the reigning three-time Defensive Player of the Year and owns a career averages of 18.4 points with 13.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 611 NBA games, all but one as a starter.