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The Magic didn’t make player moves Thursday, but Smith said improving the roster and resigning Howard go hand-in-hand.

The Magic also would appear to have the advantage in signing Howard long-term because of provisions in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement give the Magic the ability to offer Howard $30 million more than any other team if he becomes a free agent.

Orlando can offer him a five-year contract extension with 7.5 percent annual raises, while other teams are capped at offering a four-year pact with only 4.5 percent raises.

Martins, who has only been the Magic CEO since the preseason, said that part of the process was building a new relationship with Howard that he didn’t have before.

Martins said his focus will be on making Orlando what Howard needs it to be in hopes of getting the center to sign a long-term deal.

But they can’t come to an agreement, Howard could still be leaving Orlando _ just at a later date.

Martins said having experienced O’Neal walk away in 1996, like his GM, was going to put the Magic first no matter what.

“History plays a role in everything…and we were not going to suffer the same thing we did in the mid-90s,” he said. “But if Dwight made a different decision, we were prepared.

“Loyalty is hard to find … he’s gotta be commended for the loyalty he’s showing here.”

Howard said his isn’t concerned with the end of the next season.

“When the time comes we’ll deal with it then,” Howard said. “I have to put my trust in Alex and Otis…I want to win a championship and that’s the only thing that matters.”