LeBron James' agent has informed the Miami Heat that the basketball star will exercise the early termination clause in his contract and become a free agent on July 1, The Miami Herald is reporting. A person familiar with the situation has confirmed to the Associated Press that James will opt out of his contract.
The move isn't altogether surprising. After the Heat lost the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month, James told reporters that he intended to spend some time with his family before making a decision about his contract.
Opting out does not mean James has decided to leave the Heat, noted the AP's source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
It's expected that the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls, among others, will court the four-time NBA MVP, but Miami remains the odds-on favorite to retain him.
Under the NBA labor agreement, James can re-sign with Miami for a maximum contract of $115 million over five years, but only $85.5 million over four years with other teams.
James had two years and about $42.7 million remaining on his deal . In his four years in Miami, the Heat have gone to the NBA Finals four times, winning two championships.
The other two of the Heat's so-called "Big Three," Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, also have the option of opting out of the remainder of their contracts and must declare their intention to the Heat front office by Monday, July 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.