The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

LeBron James has decided to become free agent, opting out of final 2 years on Miami Heat deal

  • Print
FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2012 file photo, Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, left, Chris Bosh, center, and LeBron James pose with their championship rings during a ceremony before an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Miami. A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that James has decided to opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Heat and become a free agent on July 1. Opting out does not mean James has decided to leave the Heat, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the four-time NBA MVP nor the team had made any public announcement. (AP Photo/El Nuevo Herald, David Santiago, File) MAGS OUT

Enlarge Image

FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2012 file photo, Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, left, Chris Bosh, center, and LeBron James pose with their championship rings during a ceremony before an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Miami. A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that James has decided to opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Heat and become a free agent on July 1. Opting out does not mean James has decided to leave the Heat, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the four-time NBA MVP nor the team had made any public announcement. (AP Photo/El Nuevo Herald, David Santiago, File) MAGS OUT

MIAMI - LeBron James delivered his message loud and clear, without actually saying a word.

He's willing to leave Miami, if that's what it will take to win more championships. And what happens next will likely be up to not just the Heat, but Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as well.

Through his agent, James informed the Heat on Tuesday that he has decided to opt out of the final two years of his contract, a move that means he becomes a free agent on July 1. He will be able to sign with any team, including Miami, and Heat President Pat Riley said he "fully expected" James to take advantage of his early termination option.

"We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together," Riley said.

The Heat have been preparing for this for some time. James, Wade and Bosh all got six-year contracts when they teamed up in Miami in July 2010, the last time free agency was accompanied by the sort of frenzy that will envelop the league over the next few weeks. But each of those deals came with options to leave either this summer or in 2015, in part to allow both the players and the team to have financial flexibility.

James — who averaged 27.1 points this past season — was owed $42.7 million for the next two seasons, though that seems irrelevant in the sense that he'll be getting plenty of money from the Heat or someone else for years to come. If he stays with Miami, he could sign a deal that would give the team room to manoeuvr within the structures of the salary cap and luxury-tax threshold.

So could Wade and Bosh, if they choose to opt out as well — and if both do, Miami would potentially have plenty of cash to spend on roster upgrades. Neither has announced their plans, though both have previously said they want to remain in Miami.

"No news here yet," Wade said Tuesday.

James stayed silent as well, with agent Rich Paul being the one who informed the Heat of the four-time NBA MVP's plan. But last week, while still dealing with the sting of losing the NBA Finals to San Antonio, James expressed how enticing the idea of flexibility is to him.

"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."

He's in control now. He turns 30 next season. He might just be entering his prime.

James said last week that he, Wade and Bosh owed it to one another to have a conversation before deciding where to play going forward. It is unclear if those discussions have taken place.

And while James opting out was largely expected, the ripple effect of the move was seen all over the sports world.

The NFL, on its Twitter account, posted a photo of James dunking a football over the crossbar at the stadium his beloved Dallas Cowboys call home, light-heartedly asking him if he wanted to pass some time in a training camp while making his decision. And U.S. Soccer, also in a tweet, said it has a new team for him — then attached a photo of men's national team jersey bearing James' name and No. 6.

Even hockey got into the act.

"You know, you'd be 6-10 on skates," someone posted to the Carolina Hurricanes' Twitter account, in a message to James.

For now, all that seems certain is James sticking to basketball. What team, that's now up for debate.

He's been with the Heat four seasons, been to the NBA Finals in each of those years, winning two championships and winning more games than any other team over that span. He seems to have largely recovered from the hit his image took when he left Cleveland for Miami in 2010, often saying he's much happier now as a person than he was then.

Plus, his life has changed. He married longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson last year, and the couple is expecting their third child.

"Players have a right to free agency and when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options," Riley said. "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."

___

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this story.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Shots ring out as police say armed threat "resolved"

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060710 The full moon rises above the prairie south of Winnipeg Monday evening.
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google