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Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Howard mum on free-agency

By Ian Begley

If he so chooses, Magic center Dwight Howard can test free-agency in the summer of 2012.

Right now, in the winter of 2011, Howard is choosing not to talk about his future.

“I’m not focused on that. I have a whole other season before I can decide what I want to do so there’s no need for me to be talking about it right now," Howard said. "It has nothing to do with my team right now and I think the more and more you talk about it it’s not fun. It’s not fun for me, it’s not fun for my teammates and it’s not fun for our fans in Orlando, who have to hear about what my decision is going to be in two years.” 

Howard is scheduled to earn $18.1 million next season. His contract contains a player option worth $19.5 million for the 2012-2013 season. Recent reports, none of which have been directly attributed to Howard, have stated that the center is interested in testing the free-agent market, with the Lakers, Knicks and Nets as possible landing spots.

“We’re hoping he stays,” Magic assistant and former Knicks star Patrick Ewing said. “I see him Orlando. That’s my advice: stay his butt right in Orlando.”

Right now, Howard said, he is focused on winning with the Magic, who took a 45-26 record into play on Wednesday.

“I think our focus should be on trying to win a championship instead of where I’m going in two years,” he said.

Howard also addressed the March 1 collision with Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups that resulted in Billups missing six games with a deep thigh bruise. Billups ran in to Howard, who was attempting to set a screen.

“It wasn’t my fault. Let’s get that out of the way,” he said. “I set a regular screen and he just happened to hit my knee. I’m not a dirty player, I’m not a dirty person. l I would never try to hurt anybody on the court. That’s not who I am that’s not how I play.”

He then took an inadvertent shot at the 34-year-old Billups, who has played 14 NBA seasons.

“He’s getting older so a little bump here and there might take a long time to heal than someone my age,” Howard said.