Report: LeBron opts out of contract

Move will allow Heat All-Star to become free agent next week


MIAMI – The LeBron James era with the Miami Heat could be at its end.

Or not.

Multiple outlets are reporting that the Heat All-Star has told the team that he will opt out of his current deal and immediately become an unrestricted free agent.

VOTE: Where will LeBron play next season?

James' current contract had two years remaining. The 4-time NBA Most Valuable Player would have made $20 million next season.

Although jarring, the move does not necessarily mean that LeBron is moving on from the Heat. In fact, Heat president Pat Riley was not surprised at all about Tuesday's news.

"We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise,' Riley said in a statement. "We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together."

GRAPHIC: LeBron in every NBA jersey

James could re-sign with the team for the same amount as the deal he just terminated, but opting out allows him to explore his options and see what the Heat plan to do with its roster after a disappointing NBA Finals loss to San Antonio.

ESPN reports James can earn $127.7 million over a maximum of five years if he re-signs with the Heat. If he signs elsewhere, he can earn $94.8 million over a maximum of four years. 

For the Heat to make moves to improve its roster, it's thought the remaining members of the "Big 3," Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, would also have to opt-out of their contracts and agree to new monetary terms with Miami.