jeudi 15 mars 2012

Howard signs waiver, will stay with Magic

Orlando, Fla. -- Magic center Dwight Howard signed a contract extension in 2007 hoping he would be in Orlando as long as the city's famous mouse.

For at least another season that remains a possibility.

Howard signed papers Thursday agreeing to waive the early termination option in his contract, guaranteeing he will be with the Magic at the beginning of the 2012-13 season. His decision ends the season-long drama of whether he would be dealt prior to the trade deadline and before the Magic risked losing him in free agency.

The Magic center had the option of ending his five-year deal in July and entering the open market.

"I'm glad this is finally over," Howard said at a press conference to announce the new pact. "...It's not as easy as some people think. It's been very hard. We're talking a career-changing event. Most people don't see that.

"I'm very loyal and I've always put loyalty above anything."

Howard requested a trade in the preseason and maintained that stance until changing his mind this week and expressing a desire to remain in Orlando this season.

The move provides some temporary stability in what has been a tension-filled regular season for the Magic. Howard had requested to be traded and gave the Magic a list of three teams - the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks - that he wanted his agent to be allowed to talk to.

At the time Howard expressed frustration with Magic management and what he felt was an unwillingness to include him in personnel decisions or to improve the roster around him. He went as far as to praise the relationship he felt All-Star Dirk Nowitzki has with Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban.

Following those December revelations a daily drama began trailing the Magic and upset a fan base that lived through Shaquille O'Neal leaving town to join the Lakers in 1996.

The soap opera included a very awkward All-Star weekend in Orlando last month. Talk centered on Howard and his plans for the summer of 2012. During the weekend, the 26-year-old center repeatedly stated his affinity for the only city he has played for during his eight NBA seasons.

He maintained that position until a surprise statement following the Magic's home victory over Miami Tuesday in which he pulled back his trade request, saying he wanted to stay in Orlando this season.

Howard said Thursday's decision was in part, to give the Magic a chance to win a NBA title. He said "he's all in" and ready to give the organization a full season to improve the roster going forward.

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Dwight Howard, ORLANDO, Fla., Orlando, Dallas Mavericks, Magic management, Los Angeles Lakers, Magic, Shaquille O'Neal

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