LeBron James said he has not made up his mind on whether he will opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat and become a free agent. His mind is not clear yet. That’s what a shellacking in the NBA Finals, courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs, can do.
James could opt out and sign a new deal worth up to $129 million over five seasons. Or he could test the free-agent waters and sign with another team, which could offer him — and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh if they opt out, too–a four-year, $96 million deal.
“I’m in position to be able to do that,” James said after his exit interview with the Heat Tuesday. “Not saying I want to take that option right now. I’m not sure yet. There’s a lot of time when you’re not in control of your future in professional sports. I’ve been fortunate to have two opportunities to do that — in 2010, and if I decide to use it now, I can be in control of my future now.”
James, Wade and Bosh each have two seasons and at least $40 million remaining on the contracts they signed in 2010.
“There is a conversation that will be had between the three of us — I think that’s only right,” James said. “We’ve earned that for each other. I don’t know what Dwyane right now is thinking. I don’t know what Chris is thinking right now. We’ll see what happens.”
Wade did not speak to the media following his exit interview, something he has not done since James and Bosh joined the team four years ago. Wade is coming off the worst performance in five trips to the Finals and was the subject of criticism for his sluggish overall play. Wade averaged 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in the series against the Spurs and shot just 43.8 percent from the field.
Bosh on Tuesday maintained that he wants to stay in Miami and believes the Heat’s core will return intact. But he also anticipated there would have to be serious discussions among the players, team president Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison about the notion that the Big Three might have to opt out of their contracts and accept less money to create cap space to improve the roster.
Should all three players bypass their opt-out clause, they would account for more than $61 million of salary cap that is projected to be about $63 million next season. That means Miami, which could have as many as 14 of its 15 players enter free agency next month, would have limited resources to upgrade the roster in some regards.
After winning two titles and advancing to the Finals four times since arriving in Miami, James also said there’s really nothing specific the Heat’s front office needs to do to make an impression.
“I don’t need to hear anything,” James said of what he expects from his meeting with Riley. “I understand what this franchise brings to the table. Like I said, I’m not at that point right now. When I get there, I will be ready to talk about it.”