Last night reports surfaced that Dwight Howard was attempting to force is way out of Orlando with allegations of blackmail. He believes he was blackmailed because the Magic said they were going to trade Howard if he refused to opt-in for the final year of his contract. Here is the "real" story, you decide.
According to ESPN, Howard has told those close to him that he felt he was "blackmailed" into waiving the opt-out clause back in March after growing increasingly disgruntled with the Magic organization. He and his representatives apparently felt so burned by the Magic that they complained last week to the players' union to see if they might have a case to have the ETO waiver lifted, thus making him a free agent this summer, according to the report.
Here is what really happened. When the Magic were in San Antonio for their final game before the trade deadline, officials from the organization had the necessary waiver paperwork in hand. Howard addressed his teammates at the team hotel the morning of the game, told them he was "all in," and wanted to sign the papers. Team officials wanted him to focus on the game and deal with the issue when they returned to Orlando.
On the flight home, sources said, Howard still wanted to sign the waiver. Team officials didn't feel comfortable with Howard signing the paperwork that would end the trade saga without Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, or some other legal representative present.
When the team landed in Orlando in the middle of the night, Smith drove to the airport to greet the flight. Howard again indicated he wanted to sign the waiver, but Smith -- with whom Howard had grown close -- told him he didn't want such an important and meaningful decision about his future to be made on some tarmac at 3 a.m. They agreed that Howard should go home and sleep on it. He showed up at the Magic practice facility the next day -- hours before the trade deadline -- and signed the waiver.