Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Dwight Howard has not asked the Orlando Magic to trade him, according to Otis Smith and Alex Martins, the team's President of Basketball Operations and CEO, respectively, reports Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. The six-time All-Star underwent season-ending back surgery in Los Angeles in April and continues to rest and rehabilitate.
Howard committed to the Magic just before the trading deadline as he took the surprising step of waiving the Early Termination Option in his contract. The ETO would have enabled him to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, 2012, but his decision to waive it delays his free agency by a full calendar year. Howard has never been a free agent in his eight-year career.
"We won't go through that again," Magic owner Rich DeVos told Schmitz, referring to the drama that surrounded Howard and the team until Howard waived the ETO. During a preseason meeting with Smith, Howard asked for a trade to the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, or New Jersey Nets, a request he never rescinded. Had Howard not waived his ETO the day of the NBA trading deadline, Orlando was set to deal him to New Jersey in exchange for center Brook Lopez, guard MarShon Brooks, and the expiring contract of veteran center Mehmet Okur, according to multiple reports.
Schmitz speculates the Magic will ask Howard to sign a contract extension over the summer. If he declines to sign it, the team will find itself right back where it started the 2011/12 season: in position to lose one of the league's top players in his prime for no compensation.