LeBron tells Heat he will be­come free agent

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

MI­AMI (AP) — 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 ma­neu­ver 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. “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.”

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