Dwight Howard's decision to opt-in and stay with the Orlando Magic through the 2012-13 and not become a free agent this summer won't eliminate distractions regarding his future, it will only prolong them.
Howard confirmed to RealGM on Wednesday evening that he will waive his early termination option and stay in Orlando for at least the 12-13 season.
"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."
Howard said that he plans on signing the ETO waiver first thing on Thursday morning. He also plans on making some internal changes to ensure this situation isn't repeated in the future.
To ensure this situation isn't repeated in the future, Howard should just sign a max contract with Orlando. If his heart is really with the Magic, there is no reason to delay the signing of a new long-term deal.
If Howard really wants to spend his long-term future in Orlando and bring the franchise its first NBA championship, he needs to commit to the team now.
The Magic should be worried about giving up young talent to acquire an established star to pair with Howard if there's not a strong chance that he's going to sign for the future.
If Howard doesn't re-sign long-term then all the distractions caused this season by the uncertainty surrounding his future will only continue throughout next year.
Nothing is going to change if Howard stays next season because he can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013.
There will still be questions about his future, there will be new rumors and speculation about potential trades and interest from NBA teams, and the media attention given to the situation won't end.
If Howard really wants to end the "circus I have caused to the fans of our city," he must sign a new deal and end the possibility he will leave the Magic in the next year.
Howard has a chance to do something rare in sports these days, remain with one team for an entire career and show loyalty to the franchise that drafted you and whose fans have embraced you.
Shaquille O'Neal chose to leave Orlando as a free agent in 1996 and because of it, the team was not able to return to the NBA Finals until Howard led them there in 2009.
Howard must not follow in O'Neal's footsteps and leave Orlando. Ownership wants to win and is committed to giving Howard the help he needs to win a championship.
There's not much more you can ask from a team.
Nicholas Goss is an NBA Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, follow him on Twitter.
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