LeBron James is set to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat, his agent confirmed to NBC Sports Tuesday.
James had until June 30th to make the decision but has apparently already made up his mind about hitting the open market, as ESPN first reported. The Heat star was set to earn $20,590,000 in 2014-15 if he opted in.
"We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise," Heat President Pat Riley said in a statement Tuesday. "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."
Even though James will be a free agent, it is still possible that he returns to the Heat on a new contract. All other NBA teams will be able to discuss contracts with James once free agency begins but the Heat can offer him the most lucrative deal.
It is also possible that James returns to the Heat on a team friendly deal that allows them to sign other stars to surround him with. Fellow "Big Three" members, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have yet to announce their intentions.
Bosh and Wade can both opt-out of their deals or can opt-in and return next season. If all three end up opting out, the Heat could work out new long-term contracts with the trio or possibly form a new group.
The Heat only have one player signed to a guaranteed contract for next season and that is Norris Cole. A lot of what occurs with the roster will depend on James' decision. Both based on his talent and his salary demands, the Heat are going to have a difficult time finalizing a roster until James' situation is resolved.
"We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together," Riley said in his statement. "At the moment, we are preparing for the opportunities in the Draft and Free Agency as we continue with our goal of winning NBA Championships."
At 29, James could seek a similar deal to the contract he is opting out of both in terms of length and options. It is possible he will want an early termination option once again in any new contract.