by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

As the Orlando Magic‘s season got off to a rocky, and uninspired start, it became increasingly clear that their front-office had to make a move. The personnel they had wasn’t going to take them any further; change was in order.

Otis Smith and company made their move over the weekend, completely overhauling the team. The trades had a lot more to do with the summer of 2012 than this season. The Magic want to ensure that they won’t be completely decimated once Dwight Howard hits the free agent market.

Howard isn’t expected to sign an extension this summer, and Orlando can only hope that he appreciates the chess moves they’ve made enough to stick around town.

From CBS Sports:

“There’s a LeBron comparison here,” said a connected authority on NBA player movement. “You’ve got to put talent around these guys, these superstars, so they can win. I think if they didn’t make a move like this, I don’t think they would’ve been able to keep Dwight. Does this mean they keep him? Not for sure. But if this makes them a championship caliber team, the chances go up.”

And if it doesn’t work? Then Howard, a colossal talent who is privately envious of the Celtics’ Hall of Fame core and the free-agent coup pulled off by [LeBron] James and [Dwyane] Wade, will have one giant foot out the door. Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, took a more diplomatic approach in praising the Magic for the moves. “It’s no secret that Dwight Howard is about winning a championship,” Fegan said. “A number of teams in the East have significantly upgraded their talent level. In order to compete, the trades consummated [Saturday] are important and represent a significant upgrade in talent.”

The prevailing wisdom is that, should he not feel as though he can win a title in Orlando (and soon), Howard will have his eyes set on taking his talents to the bright lights of either New York or Los Angeles.

It’s a terrifying thought for the Orlando Magic. They have pulled off a risky and expensive gamble to keep their franchise player happy. Only time will tell if it’ll be enough.