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Howard Waives Opt Out Clause; Will Stay With Magic

Dwight Howard (credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dwight Howard (credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) - Magic center Dwight Howard has made a definitive decision regarding his future.

And it doesn’t spell good news for Nets fans.

Howard has signed papers agreeing to waive the early termination option in his contract, and he will be with the Magic to begin the 2012-13 season.

It is unclear if his agent, Dan Fegan, did as well. The trade deadline is at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Howard’s decision ends the season-long drama on whether he would be dealt before the Magic risked losing him in free agency.

The Magic center had the option of ending his five-year deal in July and entering the open market.

Howard requested a trade in the preseason and maintained that stance all regular season until changing his mind this week and expressing a desire to remain in Orlando this season.

The move ends what can only be characterized as a tense regular season for the Magic regarding what to do with Howard.

“Well, I told those guys, I’ve been telling them for the past two or three weeks now that I want to stay and finish the season,” Howard said Tuesday. “I told them I feel we have a great opportunity to win and I told them that I want to be here and I want to bring a championship here. I told them they’ve got to give me that chance.

“They didn’t trade me at the beginning of the season and I told them I’d go out and play as hard as I could every night to put our team in a position to win.”

Ongoing speculation for months had been that Howard would end up in New Jersey — and then Brooklyn — via trade. At the least, many thought, the Nets would have a great chance at signing the superstar center by throwing a ton of money his way in the offseason.

After all the speculation, how crushing is it for the Nets’ franchise not to land Howard?