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It did not take long for “The King” to respond. Miami Heat forward and best basketball player on earth, LeBron James, has officially announced he has opted out of his contract.
The news came down yesterday as James’ agent Rich Paul informed the Heat that his client will exercise his right to terminate his contract and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, according to ESPN.com. James had until June 30 to make this decision, and it did not take too long for it to come down after Pat Riley’s comments last week.
Anxiety is now high in South Beach as James’ talents could now be skipping town.
Do not fret yet though you 48 Miami Heat fans. This opt-out was to be expected and Miami is still the favored destination for James next season. It is all part of a plan by the James camp to keep leverage in his corner and force the organization’s hand.
James knows that this Heat team as we know it is done, and Dwyane Wade still holds all the cards in this situation. Since Wade is not the player he once was, the Heat cannot put together a championship team with him making over $20 million a year. So James is thinking, "If I opt-out of my contract (over $20 million was coming to him as well) and decide to take less money, this forces the hands of Wade and Chris Bosh to do the same."
If Bosh and especially Wade obliges, than James will do the same (take less money) which will allow Riley to build that roster back up again with flexibility under the salary cap. Carmelo Anthony even becomes a big consideration in this plan for the Heat. If Wade decides at this point that the money is more important (because no other team will offer a broken down player that type of money), then James will be heading elsewhere.
But where? This is the part that will excite the 29 other NBA cities in North America.
image courtesy of Roger Wong/INFphoto.com