It was reported earlier on Tuesday that Miami Heat star LeBron James opted out of his contract and has decided to test the free agent market. What was then a mere report is now confirmed by Heat president Pat Riley.
Riley had this to say about James’ decision (via Insidehoops.com).
I was informed this morning of his intentions. 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.
At this point, there is no reason to believe that James will simply bolt from Miami without hearing what Riley and Co. have to say. In addition to that, his decision to opt out of the final two years of his contract could very well have to do with giving the Heat some salary cap flexibility this summer. Remember, other reports over the weekend indicated that Dwyane Wade is also going to decline the option on the final two years of his deal.
It remains to be seen what Chris Bosh is going to do.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers are among the teams that are likely going to show interest in James once free agency starts next month. Wherever he decides to go will likely make a jump towards championship contention. If James opts to re-sign with the Heat, it will likely help them add another piece or two to the roster.
Los Angeles might seem like an attractive destination, but it is going to have to sell James pretty hard on its plans moving forward. That team is nowhere near a title contender, even if it adds James to the mix.
You can also expect the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors to show some interest in the Western Conference. With that said, neither seems to have what it takes in terms of cap flexibility to get a deal done with the best player on the planet.
In terms of overall interested, it could easily be stated that every team in the NBA has thought internally about finding a way to add James to the mix. The ball is now in his court.
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