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June 25, 2014

LeBron tells Heat he will become free agent

MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James is heading back to free agency.

James has told the Miami Heat that he is opting out of the final two years of his contract, his agent, Rich Paul, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. And with that, James will become a free agent on July 1.

“I have informed the Heat,” Paul said.

That does not mean James is leaving Miami — but there’s no guarantee that he’ll be in a Heat uniform next season, either. A person briefed on the matter and familiar with James’ thinking told AP that he has not decided where he will play next season.

“There’s no other decision yet,” that person said.

James addressed the lure of having flexibility last week in his exit interview after the Heat lost to San Antonio in the NBA Finals. And he will have plenty of it now.

Among his options: He could leave Miami entirely, join another team if he feels that better positions himself to win more championships, or sign a longer-term deal in Miami and afford the Heat some financial flexibility of their own in relation to the salary cap and luxury tax.

“Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that’s what we all would like,” James said last week. “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 other two Miami stars with early termination options — Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — have not yet told the Heat or publicly revealed whether they will join James as free agents this summer. Bosh and James both said last week that the three would meet before deciding anything about their respective futures, and it’s been widely speculated that they might have to rework their deals to keep the “Big 3” together in Miami.

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