NBA: LeBron James opts out of contract with Miami Heat

LeBron James has decided to opt out of his contract with Miami Heat.

His agent informed the Heat that the NBA superstar has decided to opt out of the remaining two years of his contract and become a free agent.

The four-time NBA MVP will become a free agent on July 1 after deciding to terminate his contract with the Heat which was scheduled to pay him $20m next season and $42.7m over the next two.

James and the Heat reached four consecutive NBA finals, winning two, during his time in Miami but the team slumped to a convincing 4-1 series defeat by the San Antonio Spurs last week, sparking questions over their future.

The decision does not mean the end of his association with Miami, but it does give 29 other general managers the opportunity to recruit the NBA’s top performer.

If James re-signs with the Heat, he can potentially earn $127.7m over five years. If he signs elsewhere, he can earn up to $94.8m over four years.

James, 29, signed for the Heat four years ago after a much-maligned television appearance dubbed “The Decision” in which he announced he was leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.

Fellow free agent Chris Bosh followed him to Miami and alongside Dwayne Wade, they formed a formidable “Big Three” that has dominated the NBA landscape.

However cracks started to appear this season, with age appearing to catch up with Wade in particular, and the poor showing in the finals appears to have convinced James that the status quo in Miami will not be enough to help him win a third title.

Following the Heat’s defeat by the Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA finals last week, James offered a cryptic hint about his plans when asked to discuss his future.

“Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that’s what we all would like,” he said.

“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 are a lot of times that you’re not in control of your future as a professional.”

James did confirm however that he would sit down with Wade and Bosh before finalising his decision on his future.

“There’s a conversation that will be had between the three of us,” he said. “It’s only right.

“We’ve earned that for each other, to have a conversation and see what could possibly happen.”

Heat’s president, Pat Riley responded to LeBron’s decision: “Players have a right to free agency and when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options.”

“We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together.”