LeBron James will opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, according to a report.
Rich Paul, James’ agent, told ESPN’s Chris Broussard that James will “exercise [his] early termination option.” James would have earned $20.5 million with the Heat in the 2014-2015 season.
Despite his decision, James can still choose to return to the Heat under a new contract. A source told the Associated Press that the four-time NBA MVP hasn’t ruled out a return to Miami next season.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the other two components of Miami’s “Big Three,” also can opt out of their contracts this season. The trio enjoyed a successful stint in Miami. In four seasons together, the Heat reached the NBA Finals every year, winning a pair of titles.
In the past, James has said that he’d welcome the flexibility afforded by free agency, ESPN reports. He was last a free agent in 2010, when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Heat.
James has yet to indicate where he’d prefer to play next season. At a June 19 press conference, Heat President Pat Riley, who engineered James’ arrival in Miami, called on the “Big Three” to re-sign and build a dynasty.
“This stuff is hard. And you got to stay together, if you’ve got the guts. And you don’t find the first door and run out of it,” he said.