Suddenly, the Magic are reportedly taking desperate measures to keep Dwight Howard

What you’re about to read is a far cry from what we told you last week. Back then, the thought around the organization was that Howard was beginning to warm up to the idea of remaining in Orlando and the Magic were happily not going to trade him.

But according to ESPN’s army of NBA writers, that’s not the case. In fact, their “sources” are telling them that the Magic are frantically trying to add pieces before the trade deadline to placate Howard. And if that wasn’t enough, the Magic would even allow Howard to make the call on Stan Van Gundy’s and GM Otis Smith’s future with the team this summer.

The Orlando Magic’s strategy for the moment on Dwight Howard, according to sources close to the process, calls for spending the next 48 hours or so making one last hard push to acquire the sort of difference-maker that would encourage Howard to commit his long-term future to the team that drafted him in 2004.

If no newcomer is acquired by Wednesday, sources said, Magic officials plan to spend the final 24 hours before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline evaluating all of their trade options and then deciding Thursday whether to stick to their long-standing desire to roll the dice and keep Howard beyond the deadline or make the best available trade.

All this makes sense to us. It’s the next part that is baffling. But before we get into that, we must state that this next part is coming from Ric Bucher. Yes, the same Ric Bucher that thinks the Lakers should trade Kobe Bryant.

One source close to the situation told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher that the Magic have promised Howard that they will add a quality player before Thursday’s deadline and that Howard can decide the fate of both GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy at the end of the season if he signs an extension. Bucks swingman Stephen Jackson, frustrated in Milwaukee, is available and sources say he and Howard have talked about playing together.

We don’t know what to believe here. Is this a team that is desperate to keep their superstar or is ESPN desperate to create a story?

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