LeBron James' agent Rich Paul has informed the Miami Heat that the four-time NBA MVP will exercise his early termination option and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
James could have waited until June 30th to inform the Heat of his decision to opt-out of the fifth year on his contract -- but decided waiting would not benefit him on the negotiating table. Giving NBA teams time to prepare for a plan on how to acquire James before they are able to talk to him on July 1st was the most likely motive for the early move.
"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," Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. "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.
"The last four seasons have been historic, and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra have led the Miami Heat to one of the most unprecedented runs in the history of the NBA. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together. 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."
James can resign another contract with the Heat if he wishes to go back to the table and see if they are willing to put up more money for future championship runs.
The news came during the World Cup Soccer play as an announcement during practice over shadowed the teams trying to make the final push for games this week.
"LeBron James has opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat," was seen being broadcast over Twitter and other social media venues as the U.S. Team was practicing.
This is the second time James has upstaged the World Cup -- when four years ago he made headlines by announcing he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. That news overshadowed World Cup play in South Africa for days as well.
Meanwhile, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade have yet to inform the Heat of their plans. They also signed contracts where they have the option to terminate their contracts this summer as well. James was asked about it last week saying they would have a team meeting prior to any information being released.
"There's a conversation that will be had between the three of us," James said last week. "I think it's only right. I think we've earned that for each other, to have a conversation and see what could possibly happen," said James.
For now, it looks as if Team U.S.A. is willing to have Lebron playing for them -- posting a twitter image with his number and name on the uniform.