With the news that Dwight Howard will not waive his Early Termination Option, word around the NBA is the Orlando Magic have "cemented" their decision to trade the six-time All-Star center before Thursday's trade deadline, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. A source within the Magic organization told the Yahoo! scribe "We're evaluating what we will do before 3 PM tomorrow."
The contract extension Howard signed with the Magic during the summer of 2007 runs through the 2012/13 season, but includes an Early Termination Option, which empowers Howard to forgo the 2012/13 season and enter free agency a year early. Reports circulating Wednesday indicated Howard made the stunning decision to waive his ETO, which would lock him into the 2012/13 season and prevent him from becoming a free agent until July 1st, 2013. However, Howard and Dan Fegan, his agent, told the Magic in a late-afternoon conference call that Howard would not consent to waiving his ETO.
Following Tuesday's win against the Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat, Howard said he wanted the Magic to "roll the dice" and keep him beyond Thursday's trade deadline in order to make a deep playoff run. But without assurances that he'll stay beyond the 2012 playoffs--assurances he could have made by waiving that ETO--the Magic may instead cash their chips in, so to speak, and trade Howard lest they lose him for nothing as a free agent.