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Phelan M. Ebenhack, Associated Press
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) bumps fists with a fan as he walks off the court after defeating win the Miami Heat in overtime of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

SAN ANTONIO — Dwight Howard has told the Orlando Magic on the eve of the trade deadline that he won't give up the option to become a free agent after this season.

Magic spokesman George Galante confirmed Wednesday night that Howard told the front office he won't waive the early termination clause in his contract. Although Howard says he wants to finish this season in Orlando, the Magic are looking for assurances their superstar wants to be around longer.

Howard's decision was first reported by ESPN.

Howard did not talk to reporters before Wednesday's game against the Spurs. General manager Otis Smith did not travel with the team and stayed in Orlando.

The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Thursday.