- Associated Press - Thursday, March 15, 2012

ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - Magic center Dwight Howard has finally put an end to the back-and-forth NBA roller-coaster ride that he had taken Orlando on for the past four months.

At least temporarily.

Howard’s 11th-hour decision before Thursday’s trade deadline to waive the early termination option in his contract means he has a deal with the only franchise he’s known at least through next season.

“I’m glad this is finally over,” Howard said at a news conference to announce the new pact. “…It’s not as easy as some people think. It’s been very hard. We’re talking a career-changing event. Most people don’t see that.

“I’m very loyal and I’ve always put loyalty above anything.”

But loyalty only goes so far, the Magic wanted it in writing.

Had Howard not signed the papers, he would have been gone.

“It was real,” Orlando general manager Otis Smith said of the possibility of dealing Howard before he signed the waiver. “We weren’t rolling the dice.”

But unless the Howard and the Magic can reach a long-term deal before next season begins, they’re start right where they left off before Thursday. And it hasn’t been pretty.

The Magic organization trudged through repeated closed door waffling on Howard’s part about a desire to play with multiple teams and players, the city hosted an awkward All-Star weekend and pacifying a patient fan base.

Teammates have been frustrated and the situation has had an already intense Stan Van Gundy ready to blow a gasket having to answer _ or refusing to answer _ daily questions about Howard’s status.

Even Howard’s mother chimed in at one point during the drama, saying that she thought her son should remain in Orlando.

The saga continued until just hours before the trade deadline.

It was originally thought by both the Magic and league office that both Howard and agent Dan Fegan had to sign the forms. But turns out only Howard’s signature was needed, opening the door for one more possible change of heart.

Though he had previously alluded to “getting bad advice” from people around him, Howard refused to touch the subject Thursday.

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