6:40pm: The Magic are continuing to explore trade proposals for Howard, as the team believes he's reconsidering his decision to opt in, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Howard informed the Magic of his decision after he told three teammates about it over lunch today. (Twitter links)
5:36pm: The Magic have given Howard until the end of the day to file the ETO paperwork, reports NBA.com's David Aldridge.
4:11pm: Howard has also told several friends and family members that he plans to opt in for next season, tweets Alex Kennedy.
3:53pm: There's some confusion among Magic players as to whether Howard said he was "all-in" for this year or next, as CBS Sports and Yahoo! Sports report (all four Twitter links). However, as Berger mentioned earlier (linked below), other sources are still suggesting Howard plans to opt in for next year. Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld says (via Twitter) Howard met with Magic brass this afternoon and informed them he would waive his ETO. For now, the Magic are continuing to explore deals for Howard, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com.
3:00pm: Dwight Howard has told teammates and Magic officials that he doesn't intend to opt out of his contract for next season, tweets Christian Burey of WFTV in Orlando. SI.com's Sam Amick confirms the report (Twitter link).
Before the Magic take Howard off the trade block, the team will require written documentation saying that Howard has waived his early termination option for 2012/13. The documents, which Orlando hasn't received yet, would need to be signed by Howard and agent Dan Fegan, says Ken Berger of CBS Sports (Twitter links).
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported earlier today that the Magic planned to trade Howard unless they received some sort of commitment from the superstar. While Orlando would prefer Howard to say he'll sign a long-term extension, waiving his early termination option would be enough of a commitment for the team. However, as Berger points out (via Twitter), it remains to be seen whether Fegan and Howard will surrender their summer leverage by putting D12's verbal decision in writing.
If Howard makes the decision official, it would allow the Magic an additional year to surround their star center with reinforcements. The team would have the opportunity to pursue free agents this summer, and many Magic players would become slightly more movable with their contracts one year closer to expiring.
If Howard doesn't officially opt in and ends up leaving Orlando via free agency this summer, I think it's safe to say today's verbal commitment could become an even bigger PR misstep than LeBron James' "Decision."