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Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, left, is hoping Dwight Howard, right, will not turn his back on the team.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, left, is hoping Dwight Howard, right, will not turn his back on the team.

No disappearing act from Orlando for Dwight Howard just yet

The Orlando Magic are hoping they can postpone Dwight Howard's disappearing act and convince him to stick around for a while.

 

The Orlando Magic have pulled Dwight Howard off the trade market and say they hope to persuade the All-Star centre to sign a contract extension and not become a free agent next summer.

Howard requested a trade last week, but ESPN.com reported Thursday that the Magic decided that none of the offers received, most notably from the New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers, were enough to part ways with the NBA defensive player of the year.

Magic officials, after consultation with ownership, decided they will continue their efforts to get Howard to stay despite his repeated vows to opt for free agency in July.

"I'm an optimist," said Alex Martins, the chief executive, who was promoted to the position after last week's surprising resignation of Bob Vander Weide. "I am confident that we can work with Dwight and convince him to stay here long term."

The Magic have said they will not risk losing Howard without compensation, which means they must either sign him or trade him before the March deadline.

However, general manager Otis Smith said they could keep Howard beyond that.

Stan Van Gundy, the coach, said the Magic's practice sessions have been relatively free of distractions.

They open a two-game pre-season at Miami on Sunday night and will open the regular season on December 25 at Oklahoma City.

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