Although a source close to the Dwight Howard camp has said that he would be happy to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard's agent reportedly said Friday that the Orlando Magic center intends to explore free agency at the end of the 2012-13 season and will not sign an extension with any team.
Whether that reluctance to sign an extension puts an end to trade talks between the Magic and Lakers remains to be seen.
According to an ESPN.com report, agent Dan Fegan said Howard's position on free agency has remained unchanged since the end of the season.
A source told FOXSportsWest.com this week that "Dwight would definitely play for the Lakers, but he has to be traded there first. He has no problem with the Lakers at all, and in fact is waiting for the trade to happen. The roadblock is that the (Magic) GM (Rob Hennigan) still thinks he can talk Howard into staying and signing a new contract. That's not going to happen. Dwight might not sign an extension right away with the Lakers, either, but I'm sure that down the road he will."
Howard has been the subject of a trade-rumor bonanza this summer. After the Brooklyn Nets dropped out of the hunt when the trade talks dragged on too long for them, the Lakers quickly jumped back into the picture. One rumored package has Howard going to Los Angeles, Lakers center Andrew Bynum heading to Cleveland and the Cavs sending Anderson Varejao and a package of picks and/or prospects to the Magic.
Although he's coming off back surgery to repair a herniated disk, Howard is expected to be back for the entire 2012-13 season.