Miami Heat fans: we have good news and bad news for you — and the bad news isn’t that you got spanked in the NBA Finals.
LeBron James has elected to opt out of his contract, his agent Rich Paul informed ESPN. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the move does not eliminate the possibility that King James will keep his talents in South Beach next season.
The free agency period tips-off on July 1. James was set to make $20 million next season and had two years and about $42.7 million remaining on his contract.
NBA players explore free agency for a variety of reasons. They may want to leave their current team, they may want more money or an extension from the squad, or they might want to restructure their deal to backload salaries and free cap space for other teammates, potentially new ones.
Some people think James wants out, possibly to return to the team that drafted him, his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Others believe he wants to bring new faces to Miami. There are several other high profile free agents, including Carmelo Anthony, who have been rumored as possible future hardcourt colleagues in Miami.
The other pieces of Miami’s so-called Big 3, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, have yet to publicly announce decisions about early termination options.
The last time James opted out of a contract he did so in a now-infamous controversial ESPN television special titled “The Decision.”
Miami Heat President Pat Riley said the following in a statement issued Tuesday: “I was informed this morning of his intentions. 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.
“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,” Riley continued. “We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together. At the moment, we are preparing for the opportunities in the draft and free agency as we continue with our goal of winning NBA championships.”