MIAMI (AP/CBSMiami) –The NBA Finals were still going on when the questions about offseason choices and free agency started coming in to the Miami Heat’s key players.
On Tuesday LeBron James told the Miami Heat that he is opting out of the final two years of his contract, according to his agent Rich Paul. And with that, James will become a free agent on July 1.
“I have informed the Heat,” Paul said.
“We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise. As I said at the press conference last week, players have a right to free agency and when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options,” said Heat president Pat Riley in a statement. “The last four seasons have been historic and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra have led the Miami HEAT to one of the most unprecedented runs in the history of the NBA. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together.”
James addressed the lure of having flexibility last week in his exit interview after the Heat lost to San Antonio in the NBA Finals.
“Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that’s what we all would like,” James said last week. “That’s in any sport, for a football player, a baseball player, a basketball player, to have flexibility and be able to control your future or your present. I have a position to be able to do that. … There’s a lot of times that you’re not in control of your future as a professional.”
While this news could be discouraging to Heat fans, the move is something that follows the trend that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh started when they elected to sign with Miami for less money than they could’ve gotten elsewhere.
The desire to win is as strong as ever with the Big Three and it would come as no surprise to see them all take lesser contracts once again in order for the Heat to add strong pieces around the trio. James opting out is likely the first step down that road.
James had two years and about $42.7 million remaining on his deal with the Heat. In his four seasons in Miami, the Heat have gone to the NBA Finals four times, winning two championships.
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