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Source: LeBron James opts out of contract to become free agent

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MIAMI — A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that LeBron James has decided to opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Miami Heat and become a free agent on July 1.

Opting out does not mean James decided to leave the Heat, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the four-time NBA MVP nor the team had made any public announcement.

James had two years and about $42.7 million remaining on his deal with the Heat. In his four seasons in Miami, the Heat have gone to the NBA Finals four times, winning two championships.

Last week, James said he planned to go on vacation with his family before making any decisions.

He also said he would talk with teammates Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, who could also become free agents.

Miami Heat President Pat Riley released the following statement on Tuesday:  “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. 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.”

An Instagram post made Sunday by James’ wife fueled speculation that LeBron may be ready for a move.

She shared a picture of Ohio with Akron denoted by a star.  It was paired with, “Home sweet home!! The countdown is real! #330″