Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will not sign a long-term contract extension if traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Howard's agent Dan Fegan, who spoke to Lakers radio play-by-play personality John Ireland on ESPN Radio Tuesday.
Howard has had another season worthy of Defensive Player of the Year for the Magic thus far, averaging 20.1 points, 15.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)
Prior to this season, Howard told the Magic that he wanted to be traded, and he gave a short list of teams that he would sign an extension with if he were dealt there, including the Lakers, New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks.
The Magic have already reportedly rejected a trade for center Howard that involved Lakers center Andrew Bynum, according to Peter Vecsey of the New York Post. And now that Howard looks like he has made it clear that he isn't committed to staying with the Lakers for the long haul if he went there, the Lakers don't seem much of a landing spot anymore.
Over the next two weeks until the March 15 trade deadline, the Magic must decide on whether to trade the three-time Defensive Player of the Year or keep him, which Howard himself has previously stated will only happen if he is surrounded with more of a championship caliber team. CBS Sports reported Thursday that Howard will not exercise his early termination option and become a free agent at the end of the season if the Magic can acquire Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash.
The Magic have also contacted the Golden State Warriors in regards to bringing guard Monta Ellis aboard in hopes of appeasing Howard to stay for the long term. With that said, trading for a player before the deadline might be the best way to convince Howard to stay, but only until the end of the season.
If the Magic get either Nash, Ellis or another impact player to pair with Howard and don't end up performing up to the team's or even Howard's own expectations, then Howard could very well still walk away for nothing in return sooner than hoped.
After that, the Magic would have quite the rebuilding dilemma to solve.