Magic's Dwight Howard not 'automatic' to accept extension next su

Dwight Howard wants to stay in Orlando, but those closest to him say
that signing a contract extension this summer with the Magic isn’t a

Not "automatic" I’m told.

Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide told me he wouldn’t be surprised if Howard
waits to make a decision, largely because of the uncertainty of the
labor situation possibly affecting salary structures.

But there’s certainly more behind Howard’s thinking:

He might well make his mind up whether to accept an extension based on how the Magic fare through the playoffs this season.

Howard will determine if he needs more help to win a title (he does), which will put the front office into the proverbial front-court press to obtain another star (very difficult).

Let’s face it: This is the hammer Howard holds over the franchise — and he should swing it.

This is how the superstars are doing it now, calling their buddies and joining forces. It’s a league of copycats at levels great and small.

(I remember Carlos Boozer coming into the Magic dressing room last year to visit, wearing the newest, priciest headphones; weeks later several Magic players had them.)

Clearly, in ignoring Denver’s offer of a three-year, $65-million extension, Carmelo Anthony has taken his cue from the LeBron James-Chris-Bosh- Dwyane Wade trio in Miami and Boozer teaming with Derrick Rose in Chicago.

Why wouldn’t Howard?

He has another season left on his contract after this one before he can become a free agent. He has a player option at $19.2 million for 2012-13 if he desires.

Howard wants to remain with the Magic. But he wants to win a title even more.,0,2707571.column

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