LeBron James will opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Miami Heat and become an unrestricted free agent, a league source confirmed.
The source spoke on a condition of anonymity because neither James nor the Heat announced the move. ESPN was the first to report James' decision and has said James' agent Rich Paul confirmed the report.
This move was expected. It maximizes James' leverage against the Heat while allowing other teams to take their best shot at the four-time Most Valuable Player.
"Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that's what we all would like," James said last week after the Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. "That's in any sport, for a football player, a baseball player, a basketball player, to have flexibility and be able to control your future or your present. I have a position to be able to do that. ... There's a lot of times that you're not in control of your future as a professional."
The Cavaliers are expected to aggressively pursue James. They'll have the cap space to pursue him and potentially other free agents and still retain Kyrie Irving.
Irving is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He is eligible for an extension this summer but it wouldn't kick in until the 2015-16 season. The Cavs are expected to extend a maximum contract offer but the fact he is still on his rookie deal for next season allows them to get aggressive in free agency.
The decision does not mean James will leave the Heat; it just gives him more options.
(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)