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LeBron James opts for free agency
Question of the Day
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.
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.
“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.
And while opting out was largely expected, the ripple effect of James‘ 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.
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