LeBron James will opt out of Heat contract, become free agent

The Post Sports Live crew debates whether LeBron James will have a better chance at winning an NBA Championship with a team other than the Miami Heat. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)

And so begins another Summer of LeBron.

LeBron James intends to exercise the early-termination option in his contract with the Miami Heat and will become a free agent next week. The news, first reported by ESPN’s Chris Broussard, quickly was confirmed by other outlets. His agent, Richie Paul, informed the Heat today, with James facing a June 30 deadline for opting out of the last two years of his contract. He was scheduled to make $20 million next season with the Heat, the team he signed with in 2010 after spending the first seven years of his career in Cleveland.

Shortly after the Heat’s bid to threepeat was thwarted by the San Antonio Spurs, James told reporters that he planned to vacation with his family before making up his mind about the future. Last week, Heat President Pat Riley lectured his players to “stay together, if you have the guts.”

“I think everybody needs to get a grip — media, Heat players, organization, all of our fans — we got to get a grip on greatness and on teams,” Riley said. “I’ve been here for 45 years in the NBA, and I’ve witnessed dynasties, I’ve witnessed great teams. The ’80s Lakers, five championships in 12 years. So what does that mean? Seven times they didn’t win. In that run, they didn’t win. You got to deal with it, you got to come back.”

On Sunday, LeBron James’ wife, Savannah, created a bit of a stir when she posted an Instagram photo of Akron, the couple’s hometown, with the words “Home sweet home!! The countdown is real! #330.” The James family frequently spends summers there, but her message sparked debate over whether it was foreshadowing.

Whether this means that the four-time NBA MVP will leave the Heat is another matter. He can re-sign a restructured contract with the Heat and this may well be the first step in that process rather than “The Decision II” with Jim Grey. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade may quickly follow. Which means this much is certain: James can now start wheeling and dealing; Carmelo Anthony might be in play, too; and Riley is on the clock.

Mike Wise: Does Pat Riley have what it takes to keep Lebron James?

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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