Dwight Howard

It’s official — Dwight Howard to stay in Orlando next season


The Orlando Magic did not win the war, they just earned the right to fight it for another year.

Multiple reports now confirm that Howard has waived the opt-out clause in his contract, meaning he will remain with the Magic for the 2012-13 season. And make $19.5 million. Which is pretty good money where I come from. Chris Broussard of ESPN was the first to report the official signing, although RealGM broke the story last night Howard had finally settled on signing the waiver.

Interestingly, Howard was allowed to execute the waiver without he signature of his agent Dan Fegan, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

Howard had flip-flopped worse than a presidential candidate the last 48 hours between wanting to stay with the Magic and wanting to keep his free agent options open.

He said that he had wanted to stay but had been getting bad advice. He apologized to the fans of the Orlando Magic for the “circus” he put them through.

But the circus will be back in town next year unless the Magic make improvements to their roster. Howard wants to win and thinks they are close right now in Orlando — that’s why he wants to stay — but the reality is they are still a couple steps behind both the Heat and the Bulls. They will need to find a way to improve this roster or next trade deadline we will all be right back in the same place.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.