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If Howard is trying to determine where he is traded and potentially set himself up to sign a long-term deal as a free agent, it must be his only chance to sign a maximum deal during his career, right?
According to an article on FoxSports.com, Howard’s agent has said that he will become a free agent after this season and will not sign an extension.
Financially speaking, a free-agent deal after this season could give Howard his best chance at increasing his total career earnings.
In a very informative article written by Larry Coon on ESPN.com (Insider subscription required), Howard’s decision as to whether to sign an extension with a team or sign a new free-agent contract is explained.
Coon writes that Howard—and Bynum, for that matter—will have higher career earnings if they are able to sign another free-agent contract when they are 31.
Howard is 26 now, and will be 27 when he becomes a free agent next July. If he signs a five-year contract next summer with an option at the end of the fourth season, he will have the ability to become a free agent again at age 31—right at the perfect time.
Coon also writes that Howard cannot increase his salary by signing as a free agent as opposed to an extension.
However, a free-agent deal next season could allow him to sign another max deal during his career.
We’re already planning Howard’s second free-agent contract? Many teams may want to sign him to his first free-agent deal. Howard, however, may set himself up for more career earnings through a second free-agent contract by signing his first.
Nonetheless, the Magic are seemingly out of the running to give Howard this first deal, so a trade should still occur. However, whichever team acquires Howard may have to sign him as a free agent to keep him past this season rather than getting his name on an extension prior to the end of the season.