Dwight Howard Eligible Now to Sign Contract Extension With Orlando
That's wrong. Howard is eligible now to sign a two-year, $42.56 million extension with the Magic that would take him through the 2014-15 season.
Howard, who was drafted with the top pick in 2004, signed a five-year, $82.55 million extension July 12, 2007 that kicked in for the 2008-09 season. He has the ability to opt out of that deal and become a free agent in the summer of 2012.
However, Howard, making $16.51 million this season, has been eligible to sign an extension with the Magic since July 12, 2010. That was the first allowed day due to it being the three-year anniversary of when he had signed previously.
"Since the third anniversary of signing his extension has passed, he is eligible to extend,'' an NBA official confirmed in an e-mail to FanHouse on Saturday night about Howard, who could lose more than $10 million if he doesn't sign an extension by the June 30 expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and a new CBA seriously curtails salaries.
Told by FanHouse on Friday during All-Star Weekend about the rule that has allowed him to be eligible to sign an extension since last summer, Howard disagreed with that. When asked if he's sure he's not now eligible for an extension, Howard said, "Positive.''
Howard's situation has come into play because he has been telling the media recently that speculation about his future is unfair because he's not eligible to sign an extension with the Magic now.
"I'm really tired of it,'' Howard told reporters Feb. 8 about all the talk about his future, which includes possibly joining New York or the Lakers in the summer of 2012. "I am annoyed by it. I can't sign a contract this year. I can't sign anything this summer (because of the pending lockout), so why keep bringing it up?''
While it remains to be seen what will happen with a possible lockout when the CBA expires June 30, Howard is eligible to sign an extension with the Magic before that date if he's determined to end speculation about his future.
It's unclear what Magic officials might have told Howard about his extension options. A message left Saturday night for Orlando general manager Otis Smith was not immediately returned.
Howard's situation came further into play when NBA commissioner David Stern told FanHouse on Thursday it's "ridiculous'' that "poor Dwight Howard'' is "out there playing his head off and the media is, 'Oh, where's he going next?'''
Speculation would seem to be less ridiculous if one considers he's been eligible for an extension for seven months, and hasn't signed one. Then again, Howard, who thanked Stern on Friday for his comment, claims to not know he's eligible.
"There's no contract for me to sign for two years,'' Howard, the starting center for the East in Sunday's All-Star Game at the Staples Center, said Friday, perhaps referring to the time period until the summer of 2012, which is the soonest he can become a free agent.
NBA rules, though, stipulate Howard now can sign for two additional years, which would give him five years on the books, the most allowed in such a situation. That would include this and next season, 2012-13, the season in which he could opt out of, and two more years.
Under current rules, if Howard were to wait until past July 1 to sign an extension, he could sign for three more years due to this season falling off as counting against the five. But a new CBA could result in a rules change.
From a money standpoint, it would seem to make sense for Howard to sign the two-year extension before the CBA expires. Howard, due to make $17.89 million next season and $19.26 million in his option season of 2012-13, could sign an extension for $20.22 million in 2013-14 and for $22.34 million in 2014-15. If Howard doesn't sign the extension and a new CBA capped maximum salaries at $14 million, Howard could lose more than $14 million off the $42.56 million he could lock up for two additional seasons.
With Howard being Orlando's franchise player, one would think team officials would want to try to lock him up as early as possible for additional years. It's unclear, though, how they have dealt with this.