Contract Extension On Table For Dwight
By Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel
The Orlando Magic have taken a step to retain Dwight Howard for the long term.
The Magic have offered the superstar center a two-year contract extension, the longest extension league rules permit the team to offer before July 1.
"The extension is on the table," Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith told reporters Friday.
Howard almost certainly will not sign the extension.
He is already is under contract for both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, but he has the right to invoke an early termination option and become a free agent during the summer of 2012.
By waiting until 2012 to decide his future, and by giving other teams a chance to make pitches to him, Howard would have additional leverage that could force Magic officials to make moves to improve a club that didn't advance out of this postseason's first round.
At the very least, waiting would give Howard more time to assess how competitive the Magic will be in the years ahead.
Howard was in no mood to discuss his future plans when he met with the press early Friday afternoon, about 15 hours after the Magic were eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks.
When asked about the contract extension Smith referred to, Howard responded, "I haven't seen a contract."
When a reporter followed up, Howard said, "I haven't seen it."
Dan Fegan, Howard's agent, did not return a message from the Orlando Sentinel for comment.
"We just got finished playing a playoff series and now you're asking me about contracts," Howard added later. "Nobody wants to talk about a contract right now. We just lost in a playoff series, so there's no need for me to be talking about contracts and where I'm going to sign."
If this was going to be a normal offseason, the Magic would be able to offer Howard a three-year extension after June 30.
But the league's current collective bargaining agreement is scheduled to expire on July 1, and that complicates everything.
What will the new CBA look like?
No one knows for sure.
A franchise tag would enable teams to hold onto their top players.
Also a possibility: shorter lengths and salaries for maximum-level contracts. If such a proposal is enacted, Howard could be left with a lower annual salary if he waits than if he merely extends his current deal.
Asked if he thought Howard would sign the extension, Smith responded, "I don't know. It's up to him and his people."
Asked if he was confident that Howard would remain a member of the Magic after the 2011-12 season, Smith said, "I have a lot of faith that he'll be back here."