The Orlando Magic are now “expecting to get” a signed “opt in” amendment from Dwight Howard and his agent this morning that will keep the All-Star center in Orlando for the 2012-13 season, according to two sources.
Howard told RealGM.com early Thursday morning that he had, for the third time in less than 24 hours, changed his mind and now wanted to opt in for 2012-13, which would take him off of the free-agent market. Howard has been expected for the better part of a year to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Magic and become a free agent, allowing him to sign with the New Jersey Nets, long believed to be his preferred team, where he could play with fellow All-Star Deron Williams. At the least, Howard had officially asked to be traded from Orlando to one of three destinations — New Jersey, the Lakers or Dallas — and the Magic have been in trade discussions with those and several other teams for weeks.
On Wednesday, Howard had initially told teammates in San Antonio following the Magic’s shootaround there that he had changed his mind and planned to opt in and stay in Orlando next season, which would give the Magic a year to surround Howard with players good enough to compete with Miami and Chicago in the Eastern Conference.
Then, after consulting with agent Dan Fegan, Howard changed his mind. And in a conference call with Magic officials and owner Rich DeVos before the Magic’s game with the Spurs, Howard told DeVos he would not opt in and would indeed become a free agent on July 1. The Magic then intensified trade discussions with the Nets and “several” other teams, according to a league source, that were willing to trade for Howard even without a commitment from him that he’d sign a long-term contract extension with them next summer.
But after the Magic’s plane landed back in Orlando early Thursday, Howard had again changed his mind and decided he wanted to opt in. The team, according to sources, told him to sleep on his decision, consult Fegan and then tell the team what he wanted to do Thursday. As of 9 a.m., the Magic had yet to receive the signed “opt in” document, but anticipated it would. But Orlando is continuing to have trade discussions with teams in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. Eastern deadline in case Howard, again, has a change of heart.
This incredible odyssey has worn out not only the Magic, but teams around the league who have had to wait on potential deals because so many teams still have hopes of acquiring Howard.
“Good thing he didn’t go to college,” a team official texted about Howard Thursday morning. “He would have never been able to pick a school.”
Another potential deal not involving Howard was being discussed Thursday morning as well.
In this proposed trade, the Lakers would acquire forward Michael Beasley from the Timberwolves as part of a three-team deal. The Lakers would send guard Steve Blake to Portland, and the Trail Blazers would send guard Jamal Crawford to Minnesota. Rumors of this deal broke Wednesday evening, but Blake played for Los Angeles in the Lakers’ overtime win over New Orleans. Crawford did not play for Portland in the Blazers’ blowout loss in New York, but Beasley accompanied the Timberwolves to Utah, where they were to play the Jazz tonight. A source involved in the discussions said Thursday morning that the deal was on the table but not yet agreed upon.