Howard reportedly told the Magic on Wednesday that he will opt-in for the final year of his contract as long as the team does not trade him. If Howard goes beyond the verbal pledge and files paperwork, that would end any hope the New Jersey Nets have of signing him before next season.
The Nets were preparing to try to sign Howard before the NBA Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. on March 15, or during the summer if they had to wait that long. New Jersey was pondering moves to slash their payroll in case a trade deal could not be worked out before the deadline. Without landing Howard, the Nets might not be able to retain the services of point guard Deron Williams (who will be a free agent) when they move to Brooklyn next season.