Dwight Howard

The Orlando Magic would like to seriously engage the Bulls in trade talks for Dwight Howard, but the All-Star center’s apparent reluctance to make a long-term commitment to Chicago has all but killed the discussions, league sources told CBSSports.com.

The feeling among rival executives remains that the Magic seem intent on rolling the dice and keeping Howard for the rest of the season, hoping a long playoff run, emotional ties to Orlando and an extra year and $29 million they could offer would persuade him to stay beyond this season. But the move would be highly risky, given that Howard has refused to publicly commit to the Magic — a stance that sources view as a strong sign that he’d leave as a free agent if he isn’t traded.

“He’s telling everyone he’s leaving,” one league source said Sunday.

Magic executives are said to be unimpressed with the assets Howard’s three preferred teams could provide in a trade, prompting them to engage in a calculated campaign to expand the field of potential suitors beyond the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers. But the team that can make the strongest case for Orlando to depart from its risky strategy of holding onto Howard are the Bulls, who could offer 7-footer Omer Asik, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, sources said. The Bulls also could offer a valuable first-round pick from Charlotte — top-14 protected in this year’s draft but but unprotected by 2016.

– Reported by Ken Berger of CBS Sports

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