In case you missed it (and really, how could you?) here's the latest (as of a few minutes ago - it could change again by the time I finish posting this).
In a Wednesday night conference call with Orlando Magic officials before the team's game in San Antonio, Dwight Howard told the Magic he is not prepared to surrender the option to become a free agent at season's end, according to sources with knowledge of the discussion. Howard After numerous reports earlier Wednesday indicating Howard had agreed to waive his early termination option and lock himself into the final season of his contract with the Magic, sources said Howard and agent Dan Fegan clarified their position in the conference call with Magic CEO Alex Martins, owner Rich De Vos and other members of the De Vos family.
Now, the Howard saga enters the next phase as the Magic will continue exploring trade options. If Howard isn't dealt by Thursday's deadline -- or after the season and before July 1 -- the Magic face the prospect of losing him as a free agent and receiving no assets in return. Magic officials were not surprised by Howard's change of heart. Actually, the very fact that they needed to ask the franchise cornerstone who's played for them since he was drafted in 2004 to express his commitment to them in writing spoke volumes about the level of trust between the two sides. Howard has changed his mind many times during the months-long runup to Thursday's deadline, and Magic officials informed of Howard's verbal commitment earlier in the day were skeptical. Meanwhile, Magic GM Otis Smith remained on the phones throughout the day Wednesday, exploring trade possibilities for Howard and other contingencies that would add talent to the roster in the event Howard gave the team the written commitment it required.