Thursday, March 15, 2012

Howard changes mind, will opt in for next season with Magic

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In one of the wildest 24 hour stretches of NBA trade deadline history, Dwight Howard has finally changed his mind about changing his mind one last time and will reportedly not leave the Orlando Magic via trade today or free agency this summer.

The All-Star center reportedly decided overnight not to exercise the early termination option on his contract and remain with the Magic through the 2012-13 season. Which means Howard would stay in the city he has called home since entering the league eight years ago, delaying free agency for at least another year.

Howard told RealGM senior writer Jarrod Rudolph early this morning that he was done with the drama, admitted to and apologized for the mistakes he said he’d made in handling the situation and expressed his love for the city of Orlando:

    “Man, listen, you know my heart, my soul and everything I have is in Orlando,” Howard told RealGM. “I just can’t leave it behind.”

    Dealing with such a big decision was new territory for Howard.

    To help with the process he sought advice from people he believed had his best interest in mind. All the while, his heart remained in Orlando. While he wanted to keep his options open, Howard’s intentions were never to alienate his teammates, coaches or general manager.

    The circumstances, however, spiraled out of control and turned into something he never wanted to happen. Howard was very remorseful for the situation that he created, but eager to turn it around and show everyone who has been hurt by his actions how much he appreciates them and how sorry he is for Wednesday’s events.

    “I have gotten some bad advice,” Howard said. “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.”

    … ”This has been a very hard time,” Howard said. “For me, my family and all of us. The fans deserve a better hero and I will make that happen. I love and appreciate my fans and this city.”

Magic fans won’t know what to do this morning as they await official word on Howard’s latest decision. Both he and his agent, Dan Fegan, have to sign forms saying that he plans to opt-in — the same paperwork he said he would not sign before the Magic played in San Antonio Wednesday night. And the same paperwork he reportedly told teammates and Magic executives earlier in the day that he would sign.

“I don’t think Dwight ever wanted leave Orlando,” a league source told late last night. “He has been getting bad advice. He’s been getting bad advice all along. He’s got people in his ear that want him to do one thing and he wants to do something entirely different. And he’s looking really ridiculous right now with the way this entire mess is playing out.”

Howard will no doubt have some repair work to do on his image, particularly with the fans in Orlando. They braced themselves for a potential trade late last night only to wake up this morning to yet another stunning reversal.

Stay tuned for more details, as this saga is still not over until the Magic receive that paperwork from Howard and his agent …

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