LeBron James Opts Out of Contract With Miami Heat, Becoming Free Agent

The four-time MVP has exercised his option to opt out of his current contract with the Miami Heat, despite a reported $20 million payday next season.

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LeBron James of the Miami Heat during Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs June 16, 2013, in San Antonio

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Let the frenzy begin. LeBron James has exercised "his early-termination option," making him an unrestricted free agent on July 1, ESPN reports.

While James had until June 30 to opt out of his current contract, ESPN believes that having his agent, Rich Paul, tell the Miami Heat a week before the deadline gives not only the Heat but also other teams the opportunity to pitch the superstar on how they would utilize his talents once organizations can talk with players on July 1.   

Before folks in Miami lose their cool, ESPN notes that James' decision to opt out of his contract doesn't necessarily mean he is leaving the Heat, but he is entertaining other options.  

The Heat can still make a run at the four-time MVP, but it doesn't help their case that arguably the best player in the universe is walking away from a reported $20 million payday for next season and another $42.7 million over the following next two years.  

For months, rumors had been swirling that the Akron, Ohio-born superstar would return to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers once this season was over. Last week James' wife, Savannah, caused an Internet meltdown when she posted a photo to Instagram of a map of Ohio with Akron starred and the caption, "Home sweet home!! The countdown is real! #330"

A source close to the situation told ESPN that Savannah's post was not about the future Hall of Famer's job situation but, rather, about the family's off-season vacation plans. 

James told reporters after the Heat's humiliating loss to San Antonio in Game 5 of the NBA Finals that he was going to take a vacation with his family before looking into his contract situation, ESPN notes.

Read more at ESPN.