Dwight Howard’s employer wasn’t exactly shocked when the big fella made it clear that he plans to test the free agent waters next summer. It’s now up to the Magic to convince him to stick around town for a few more years. From the Orlando Sentinel: “Howard’s contract runs through the 2012-13 season, but he can terminate the deal one year early and become a free agent in July 2012. Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith isn’t surprised that Howard plans to become a free agent. ‘I expected it,’ Smith [said]. ‘I think free agency is a basketball player’s God-given right. It’s one of the things they bargained for, so I expected him to look at all of his options and become a free agent if that’s what he’s going to choose.’ Howard’s ability to become a free agent gives him additional leverage as he urges Magic officials to upgrade the roster. Howard has hinted at dissatisfaction with the team’s roster before: during a Memorial Day barbecue in Orlando and during a charity event on June 2 in Alabama. But Smith said his goal this offseason isn’t any different than other offseasons. ‘My job going into every season and offseason is to make our team better and give ourselves the best chance there is to win an NBA title,’ Smith said. ‘The problem is, after you get ousted in the first round, you’re expected to have a knee-jerk reaction and make wholesale changes. The fact of the matter is, we made wholesale changes during the season. A lot of those changes — I wouldn’t say they didn’t work — I just think that you have to allow chemistry sometimes to jell, the things the fans may take for granted. So every year going into the offseason our objective is to get our team better, and every year during the season and the offseason we’ve done that. So I don’t have any bones about trying to get better. That’s what we do.'”
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