“Magic center Dwight Howard spent the holiday weekend working on signing a two-year extension with the team, sources told Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore late Monday,” gushed an item on the WKMG TV website yesterday, news that would most assuredly qualify as a blockbuster for the Orlando broadcaster given Howard’s comments earlier that day that seemed to suggest the Magic would have to improve the rest of their roster before he made such a commitment. The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi reminds us, Pingalore, aka “Ping” (above, right), “who also reported last season that the Magic were on verge of signing Chris Paul..and it was also Ping who reported that UCF’s admittance into the Big East was imminent and could happen “within a week.” That was a year ago.”

Here’s the thing about Ping: You’d think he would tread very carefully on a story of this magnitude (Dwight signing a contract extension is, after all, the biggest news in this town), but I’m not so sure Ping really even cares if his report turns out to be wrong. He just likes people talking about him. I mean, seriously, how else is he going to get any air time on his station with the Casey Anthony trial underway and the beginning of hurricane season around the corner?

Question: Why didn’t Channel 6 lead its newscast with Ping’s report that Howard is going to sign an extension and stay with the Magic for at least four more seasons? Wouldn’t that be a huge national and local scoop for the station? Or do even Ping’s bosses know that his scoops often turn out to be dupes?

Let’s face it, you have to take Ping’s reports not just with a grain of salt but with the entire shaker. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ping has turned the 11 o’clock news into the 11 o’clock guess.