Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard gestures during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston

Report: Dwight Howard flip-flops again, will not opt-in with Magic

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Dwight Howard has handled his exit from Orlando about as poorly as one person can. He has made LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony look smooth.

And it will be an exit from Orlando now. You can bet after today the Magic are burning up the phones in an effort to get a deal done before Thursday’s 3 p.m. eastern deadline.

After earlier in the day telling a few teammates and members of the Magic management that he would not exercise his option and “opt-in” to stay with the Magic next season, Howard has changed his mind again according to Marc Stein at ESPN and multiple other reports. He would not sign the papers that took his option off the table.

In a Wednesday night conference call with Orlando Magic officials before the team’s game in San Antonio, Dwight Howard told the Magic that he is not prepared to surrender the option to become a free agent at season’s end, according to sources with knowledge of the discussion…

During the call, sources said, Howard told the Magic that staying in Orlando is his first choice. But he also made it clear that he was not prepared to relinquish the (Early Termination Option) ETO in his contract that allows him to become a free agent.

Dwight, Dwight, Dwight. I know it’s an election year, but you just can’t come off as flip-flopping like this. It gets politicians, and it’s going to get you.

When asked why Howard told several teammates and members of the organization earlier in the day that he had indeed decided not to opt out of his contract, the source insisted that Howard “didn’t fully understand the ramifications” of surrendering his ETO and did so largely because Magic officials warned him that he would be traded by Thursday’s 3 p.m. trading deadline if he did not take that step.

Orlando is now going to work hard to trade him before the deadline. I’d expect him to be moved — and not necessarily to the Nets or a place he wants. The Magic will not make the best move for the Magic without concern for Howard.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: