LeBron James Opts Out of Contract with Heat, Set to Become Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1
Well this is a shock. On Tuesday morning, LeBron James officially announced he will opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Miami Heat. He will now become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, all but guaranteeing that he will be the biggest sports story of July and August.
So I guess this means LeBron is definitely packing up his talents and leaving South Beach, right?
Wrong. It’s quite possible and maybe even likely that LeBron has every intention of staying in Miami. However, LeBron is 29 years old and at the height of his basketball super powers. He will never have greater leverage in negotiating a contract than he does right now. So even if he wants to keep his talents in South Beach, opting out gives LeBron the chance to cash in and get a veto over whatever personnel moves are coming after the Heat got dismantled by the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals. Moreover, since LeBron has played with the Heat for four seasons, he’s eligible for the so-called Larry Bird salary cap exemption, which means a new giant contract for himself won’t eat up all of Miami’s cap space and prevent them from signing other big-name free agents.
That being said, it’s not like LeBron’s agent won’t listen to offers from other teams. And since we know LeBron’s number one priority is winning, it is also quite possible that he’ll head to greener pastures…or even back to Cleveland.
At this point, though, the only thing we know for sure is that, whatever LeBron’s decision, he’ll handle the PR side of things a little differently this time around.
Hat Tip – [ESPN]