Miami, FL, United States (4E Sports) – Superstar LeBron James has opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat and will become a free agent on July 1, his agent confirmed.
James’ agent, Rich Paul, has informed the Miami Heat of his client’s decision to exercise the early termination option on his contract. Paul later confirmed it via text message to different media outlets.
James was set to earn $20.5 million next season on the contract that could have gone through 2016 (player option worth $22.1 million).
With James’ move, the pressure is now squarely on Heat president Pat Riley to win the recruiting war for the superstar’s services again like he did in the summer of 2010.
“I was informed this morning of his intentions,” Riley said. “We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise. As I said at the press conference last week, players have a right to free agency and when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options.”
“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,” he added.
Riley said he will sit down with James and his representatives to discuss “about our future together.”
“At the moment, we are preparing for the opportunities in the Draft and Free Agency as we continue with our goal of winning NBA Championships,” Riley added.
The 29-year-old James signed with the Heat in 2010 after spending his first seven years with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Miami reached the NBA Finals in each of James’ four years with the club, winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. The Heat were denied a three-peat by the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month.
James averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 77 games last season.