AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
It’s no longer bittersweet to talk about Dwight Howard. For Orlando Magic fans, for today, it’s just sweet.
Howard opts in for the 2012-2013 season? A collective sigh of relief swells up in Orlando. The tension and dizziness that Dwight’s indecision has created for Orlando fans has been frustrating, overshadowing the Magic’s considerable success and casting an uneasiness over the festivities of Orlando’s first All-Star Weekend.
But today, the Magic fan base can rest easy, at least for a little while. In a report now confirmed by other major media outlets, Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM has stated that Dwight will indeed waive his early termination option (which he has officially done) and remain a Magic player for the final year of his contract.
So what does it all mean?
It means that Orlando is playing for keeps this season. It means the No. 3 seed in the East and recent wins over Miami and Chicago are no joke. The Magic are invested in the present and are now looking at making a serious push with the roster they have.
Though Howard’s decision still only extends his current contract for one more season, it gives the organization a chance to band together for the stretch run of the current season. For a team playing as well as the Magic have through the torment and antics of the past several months, just imagine how much better they will be now that they are united for up to 15 more months.
In the long term, it means that the top objective for general manager Otis Smith is going to be finding a guy or two (a star or two) to bring on board in Orlando and get Dwight to sign that huge career-ending contract that the Magic fanbase is hoping for. When the free agency circus comes to town next year, the onerous veteran contracts now on the payroll will be a little less onerous and the Magic won’t be in such dire straits trying to find players or flexibility to put around Howard for the long run.
In short, the events that transpired the past 24 hours benefit Orlando both in the immediate and in the long run.
The biggest positive to come from today?
Lord knows fans would’ve been tempted to throw in the towel if Dwight took off at the end of this season or Orlando was forced to put up with the likes of Brook Lopez for the remainder of this season. Instead, Orlando is blessed with more time and to make matters better, that blessing carries the added benefit of allowing the franchise to focus on staying one of the winningest teams in the league.