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"Necessary decisions will be made" if Dwight Howard declines to sign a contract extension with the Orlando Magic during the summer of 2012, team CEO Alex Martins said Tuesday night, reports David Baumann of Bright House Sports Networks. Howard, a six-time All-Star and the league's top overall center, can become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on July 1st, 2013, and Orlando wants to avoid losing him with no compensation.
Howard could have opted for free agency in 2012, but made the unusual decision to waive his right to join the 2012 free-agent class the day of the NBA trading deadline. In theory, that choice ensured he'd stay with Orlando through at least 2013, but in practice, it may not have meant much. The Magic struggled during the 2011/12 season due to a limited roster and key injuries, yes, but also due to the distraction Howard's pending free agency caused, and Martins' words Tuesday strongly indicate the club does not intend to put up with another year of Howard rumors and innuendo.
On Howard's future, Martins said Tuesday "We'll cross that bridge when it comes to it," reports Baumann. But given that Howard is the axis on which the Magic franchise revolves, resolving his situation figures to be of the utmost importance when Orlando proceeds with its offseason.
Then again, Orlando could delay its overtures to Howard and instead focus on upgrading the players around him, making its extension pitch to the eight-year veteran only after overhauling the roster.
Howard requested a trade from the Magic during training camp, naming the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and New Jersey Nets as his desired destinations. Otis Smith, the team's President of Basketball Operations, said Howard has backed off that request and has not made another such demand since.