In an exclusive interview with Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM.com, Howard said he plans to waive the early termination option in his contract — a move that will keep him in Orlando this season and next season.
“Man, listen, you know my heart, my soul and everything I have is in Orlando,” Howard told RealGM. “I just can’t leave it behind.”
Howard’s decision, which will not be official until he and his representative, Dan Fegan, sign paperwork. His admission to Rudolph capped a whirlwind day in San Antonio for the Magic as Howard reportedly told teammates he is “all-in” for this season, told team officials he would terminate his ETO, changed his mind, then changed it again.
“I have gotten some bad advice,” Howard told Rudolph. “I apologize for this circus I have caused to the fans of our city. They didn’t deserve none of this. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. I will do whatever I can to make this right and do what I was put in Orlando to do.”
“This has been a very hard time,” Howard said. “For me, my family and all of us. The fans deserve a better hero and I will make that happen. I love and appreciate my fans and this city.”
Howard said that he plans on signing the ETO waiver first thing on Thursday morning. He also plans on making some internal changes to ensure this situation isn’t repeated in the future. Click here to hear the discussion I had with Brian Fritz and Mike Bianchi on the 740 The Game radio this morning in Orlando, including my belief that the Magic should now be making a hard push to acquire Deron Williams from the Nets.
Howard fired longtime agent Aaron Goodwin about a year ago and signed with Fegan, one of the most powerful agents in the business. Fegan was close to brokering a trade with the New Jersey Nets in the preseason, but the talks died without the sides reaching a deal.
Speculation over Howard’s future has since reached a fevered pace, and his announcement early Thursday — if he sticks to his word — will have an impact on the trade market in the hours leading up to the 3 p.m. EDT trade deadline.
To read the entire Howard story from RealGM.com (hat tip to @MrRudolph for the scoop of the year), click here.