Forget 2014 for now! I know the Lakers are looking ahead for the 2014 FA class and are hoping to sign an elite Free Agent, but I really think we may end up in a bad spot. The only way we have a chance at signing an elite Free Agent is if we have either Howard or similar top-tier player already signed long-term. If that’s not the case, I think we end up using the max on the wrong guy and limit our options for a long time like the Knicks did with Amaré and Nets did on Deron and Joe Johnson (I know it was Atlanta who signed him, but Brooklyn is stuck with him).
I think we need to do whatever possible to re-sign Howard and in case he leans towards signing elsewhere we should attempt to move him for another elite player, like Kevin Love, CP3, Griffin etc. – getting Omer Asik in a sign-and-trade wouldn’t be bad, but probably isn’t going to cut it when it comes to winning championships in 2014 or signing LBJ in 2014.
1) Howard would need to agree to a paycut by agreeing to a S&T. That's not happening unless he desperately wants to play on a team that can't sign him outright.
2) We can't receive any players in a S&T because we are over the cap, so what I said above is irrelevant.