The Orlando Magic may have influenced Dwight Howard to delay his free agency until July 1st, 2013, by threatening to trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers, reports Fred Kerber of the New York Post. Howard only signed the document waiving his Early Termination Option "after he was told 'he would be a Laker by the end of the day,'" according to Kerber, citing a source.
Had Howard not agreed to delay his free agency another season, Orlando would have sent Howard to the Lakers for fellow All-Star center Andrew Bynum, veteran reserve point guard Steve Blake, and second-year forward Devin Ebanks.
Though the Lakers were among the three teams to which Howard requested a trade in training camp--the other two were the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets--the team in which he was most interested was New Jersey. "He was adamant New Jersey, New Jersey, New Jersey," one source told Kerber. The incredibly image-conscious Howard did not want to be seen as copying Shaquille O'Neal, the first superstar Magic center to bolt Orlando for Los Angeles at the first opportunity, which is why the Magic used the possibility of a Lakers trade to get Howard to sign the ETO waiver.
Kerber reports Orlando does not want to endure another season of Howard drama and will seek to trade him before training camp if he will not sign a long-term extension with the team.