The Decision has been made. LeBron James is heading back to free agency.
The four-time NBA MVP has told the Miami Heat that he is opting out of the final two years of his contract. His agent, Rich Paul, confirmed the move with The Associated Press adding that James will become a free agent on July 1. The decision was first reported by Chris Broussard of ESPN
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.
In four seasons with Miami James has led the team to four appearances in the NBA Finals and two championships.
CBSSports.com's James Herbert notes that James' move gives both him and the team flexibility.
"It could even result in him taking a pay cut, depending on if Heat president Pat Riley can convince other free agents to come to South Beach," Herbert writes. "If James wants to, he can sign a new deal for the exact same salary he would've made had he opted in. He has all the leverage in the world, and it's only logical to use it."
As for Riley, he released a statement Tuesday acknowledging that he expected James to exercise his free agent rights.
"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," Riley said. "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."