In an about face that will save face with fans of the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard has decided to stay in central Florida.
At least for now and the immediate future, Superman’s long-term status won’t be a source of daily, even hourly, debate that has pushed too many people to the brink of insanity.
Hopefully the days and months that led to Thursday’s decision makes Howard wiser and less arrogant when he once again must decide his fate and the fate of a franchise.
Eventually, that bridge must be crossed, but the sigh of relief was so palpable in Orlando that it would send repercussions throughout the league as the NBA’s trade deadline came and went.
As always, the biggest losers in the Howard melodrama would be the New Jersey Nets, a team that can’t buy a break, even with a deep-pocketed owner.
Deron Williams now replaces Howard as the most likely franchise player to walk when this elite point guard is eligible for free agency this summer.
Williams, who is a Dallas native, has been linked with the Mavs for months.
The reigning NBA champions have been quite adept at clearing cap space with the hope of moving forward from the Jason Kidd era.
Part of the plan, which should be obvious for all to see, was to compete this season without compromising any future cap flexibility Dallas has created.
Williams and Howard were both part of the grand vision.
Howard, who is among the most engaging ballers in the league, has waffled more often than he misses free throws down the stretch of games.
Here’s a guy who asked to be traded back in December, and has sent conflicting messages each time his future was raised, which would become a daily routine with the Magic.
In the days leading up to Thursday’s deadline, there were more twists and turns that could have easily been avoided had anyone, especially Howard, exercised better judgment.
As always, the media only added to the circus-like atmosphere by quoting unnamed sources that would contradict unnamed sources attributed by competing news agencies.
“It’s been very tough for me the past couple of months to make a decision,” Howard said at a news conference in Orlando on Thursday. “I’ve gone back and forth. It’s not as easy as people think. It’s very hard.
“I just love this city too much. I love the people here. I love this organization.”
You want to take Howard’s words at face value, but how can anyone possibly embrace Howard’s sincerity when so much insincerity has been allowed to fester.
One minute Howard was said to be committed to Orlando for another season, the next minute he was said to be poised at exercising an out clause that would have paved the way for free agency this summer.
On Wednesday, Howard huddled with his beleaguered teammates prior to Orlando’s tip versus the host San Antonio Spurs, and later engaged in a conference call with Magic management.
And then early Thursday morning, Howard reached out to website realgm.com, yet again expressing a change of heart, only this time it would signal the beginning of the end to all the chatter about his future.
“I have gotten some bad advice,” Howard told the sports website. “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.”
Credit Orlando management and ownership for being incredibly patient amid the daily chaos.
It’s amazing that head coach Stan Van Gundy hasn’t lost his mind, though he did come close in the days leading up to Thursday when his patience level got tested with each Howard query.
When he met the media on Thursday, Howard admitted he had changed his mind on a daily basis.
In addition, Howard claimed he experienced many sleepless nights and even endured long stretches where he didn’t eat.
The inevitable question of why it took this long to commit for one more season was followed by this Howard response: “Have you made a tough decision in your life? Have you? Did it take one day?”