(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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.