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.
As part of this process, one source said, Orlando will continue to seek a "definitive answer" from Howard about his future and hold out hope that he'd at least agree to exercise the option for next season on his current contract to give their marriage at least one more year. But Howard, according to associates, is determined to become a free agent in July in order to have complete control of his future and get to one of the top two destinations on his wish list: New Jersey or Dallas.
A source close to Howard, addressing reports that he's already made up his mind to join the future Brooklyn Nets, told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that's not a done deal.