Fortunately for everyone who has been watching the entire drama play out, it seems DH12 has finally made a concrete decision.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the superstar center has flat out told Magic GM Rob Hennigan on Wednesday that he wants no part of this organization past the 2012-13 campaign and will be leaving via free agency (likely to the Dallas Mavericks) if they do not trade him.
This re-affirms statements made earlier this month, when Hennigan and Magic CEO Alex Martins attempted to pitch Howard on staying in Orlando before being strongly rebuffed by the All-NBA center.
Dwight may have earned his reputation for waffling on his decisions, but you can’t knock him for finally sticking to his guns here. He realizes he made a mistake by opting in to his contract for the 2012-13 season and is doing his best to distance himself from it.
If Howard had given the franchise false hope, even if it were through some cryptic statement that he instantly reneged on, it would have set back his goal to leave the Magic Kingdom considerably.
The Magic want nothing more than to sign DH12 to a long-term extension, but now they have to realize that the likelihood of that is beyond miniscule.
If Howard continues to force the issue of a trade and sticks to his word about leaving next summer, he’ll have his wish granted sooner than later.
Orlando cannot afford to have Howard walk away for nothing when they have a real chance to rebuild their franchise with picks accrued through a Dwight deal by the March deadline.
Hennigan and Martins must stop pitching him on staying and instead focus that energy on getting a trade done as soon as possible.