Are we really about to go through another offseason of Dwight Howard drama?
Howard waived his early termination clause to remain under contract through the 2012-13 campaign, but that doesn't mean we won't be subjected to the constant, incessant speculation and trade rumors as Orlando's offseason begins.
The Magic played it all wrong with Howard last year.
The team allowed Howard to dictate the situation rather than control it, and that's a major reason why it was such an exhausting process for the fans.
Howard, however, is supposed to be a franchise player. He is supposed to be a guy who wants to be in Orlando. Yet, his actions continue to speak far louder than any of his words.
Nobody wants to be put through another "Dwightmare," and the public opinion of the star center really changed this past season.
The narrative shifted to a place where it had never been before, and Howard found himself playing the role of villain.
Now, it seems the front office has finally learned. After a season of uncertainty and constant distraction, GM Otis Smith and Orlando's decision-makers appear determined to have an answer on Howard's future one way or another before the 2012-13 season.
Magic CEO Alex Martins shared his thoughts with David Baumann of BHSN and News 13 in Orlando (via Kurt Helin of NBC Sports ProBasketballTalk).
Magic CEO Martins told me on camera #dwighthoward needs to sign long term extension or “necessary decisions will be made.”
Magic CEO Martins wants long term extension from #dwighthoward” so we don’t go thru a season like we went thru this year,” he told me.
It sounds like someone learned his lesson the hard way.
Of course, Martins really doesn't say or reveal anything concrete. "Necessary decisions will be made" doesn't imply that a trade is coming or that Howard won't be with the team when the season opens, but it does provide fans with some glimmer of hope that the situation will be resolved.
After a bulging disc in his back (and subsequent surgery) sidelined him for the Magic's first-round series in the 2012 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers, Howard enters the offseason as the superstar with the most question marks surrounding his future.
Upon deciding to waive his early termination clause, Howard told RealGM that he just couldn't leave Orlando.
"Man, listen, you know my heart, my soul and everything I have is in Orlando, I just can't leave it behind."
If that is really the case, Howard should sign the extension as soon as possible. If his heart, soul and "everything" he has is in Orlando, why would he have thoughts of leaving the team?
Howard takes an inconsistent stance on his future with the Magic, but he's supposed to be the franchise face of the organization.
It can't work both ways.
Again, via RealGM, Howard seemed genuine in apologizing for what he had created.
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.
If the fans didn't deserve it, let's not go through it again.
If Howard's heart is really in Orlando, it's time to sign the deal to remain a Magic for the foreseeable future.