Dwight Howard Signs Wavier To Stay With Orlando Magic Through Next Season
According to ESPN, the star center signed a waiver Thursday (March 15) that will keep him under contract with the team through next season. By signing it, Howard has given up the option to terminate his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.
The news comes after months of speculation as to where the NBA star would land before Thursday’s trade deadline.
Before the start of the season, Howard reportedly demanded a trade, but early Wednesday (March 14), he had a change of heart, telling Magic management he would not opt out of his contract and would remain with the club next season. Later that evening, he told select teammates the same thing.
The team couldn’t gamble though. They gave him an ultimatum: commit (legally) or be traded.
According to ESPN.com, Howard made his final decision after the Magic’s win over the Spurs on Wednesday evening. He mulled over it on the club’s postgame flight from San Antonio to Orlando, and told the Magic he was ready to sign the waiver right then and there, at about 3 a.m. ET. But, the Magic (according to sources) told Howard to continue thinking about his decision and made plans to meet with him and have him sign the waiver early Thursday.
“They did not want him to sign the paper at 3 a.m.,” one source said. “They wanted him to sleep on it and come back with a clear head in the morning.”
Unlike Lebron, who controversially left the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2009, Howard told RealGM.com that he just couldn’t leave the team/city he’s called home since entering the league out of high school in 2004.
“Man, listen, you know my heart, my soul and everything I have is in Orlando. … I just can’t leave it behind,” Howard told the website, adding that he was sorry how the situation has played out until now. “I have gotten some bad advice. I apologize for this circus I have caused to the fans of our city. They didn’t deserve none of this. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. I will do whatever I can to make this right and do what I was put in Orlando to do.”
By signing the waiver, Howard passes up the opportunity to sign a long-term contract this off-season. If he had opted out and re-signed with Orlando, Howard could have secured a max contract of $109 million over five years. If he signed elsewhere, he could have received $81 million over four years.
His options will be to either sign a two- or three-year extension with the Magic, or he can collect $19 million next season and then become a free agent.