At this point, the only certainty in this soap opera is that it will feature more uncertainty. Each day seemingly presents one more juicy rumor.
Are you confused about what might happen?
If you are, let this be your guide to sorting out some possible scenarios.
HE STAYS . . .
All indications are that Howard wants his
But Howard has flip-flopped before, and it would not be a surprise if Magic officials try to convince Howard to remain long-term. Is it possible that the eventual coaching hire — maybe Michael Malone or
The Magic will begin their training camp in early October, and general manager Rob Hennigan says he has not ruled out having Howard begin camp with the team. Still, that scenario could create an exceedingly ugly and tense situation, especially if Howard says his surgically-repaired back isn't ready for basketball activities. That would put the Magic's new coach, whomever it turns out to be, in a difficult position.
The prospect of Howard beginning the season with the Magic — and potentially being booed whenever he steps inside
HE GETS TRADED TO . . .
ANOTHER TEAM STEPS IN . . .
The Magic would love to convince the
CONTRACT FACTS AND FIGURES . . .
There's another reason why Howard wants to join the Nets sooner rather than later. Any team that acquires him before the 2012-13 season's trade deadline and keeps him through the end of the season will own Howard's "Bird rights" when Howard is scheduled to become a free agent in July 2013. That team will be able to offer him a five-year deal worth a total of almost $117 million, according to salary-cap expert Larry Coon. Any other team bidding on him in free agency would, at most, be able to offer Howard only a four-year deal worth about $86.8 million. To be sure, the differences between a four-year contract and a five-year contract can be overstated. But after his back injury, Howard now might be more interested in the additional security that a five-year contract can provide.