In the wake of LeBron James' decision to opt out of his contract, the NBA's best player is still expected to sit down with Miami Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to discuss a future together with the team, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The meeting is expected to take place days before the official beginning of free agency, and there's an expectation that the Heat's "Big 3" will have a strong idea about whether they'll continue together in Miami before James, 29, can hit the market on July 1.
The Heat's core players have until June 30 to inform the team of their plans, and now the pressure goes to Bosh and Wade to opt out of their deals to presumably re-sign new contracts at lesser values to help James and the Heat create the salary cap space to upgrade the roster.
James, a four-time NBA MVP, is opting out of the final two years and $42.7 million on his contract. He is eligible to sign a new five-year, $114 million maximum extension with the Heat, or for four years with another team.
Discussions between James and Heat owner Micky Arison and president Pat Riley will take place soon too, sources said.
James' agent, Rich Paul, informed the Heat on Tuesday morning that his client would exercise the early termination option on his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, sources said.
The most intriguing move on the mind of James and his camp, sources told Yahoo Sports, would be a sign-and-trade scenario with the Los Angeles Clippers in which James could play with close friend Chris Paul and under president-coach Doc Rivers. Nevertheless, Miami has remained the primary consideration for James, sources said. He wants to see Riley's plans for improving the roster.
As for sign-and-trade scenarios, in which Riley would have to assist James in getting his maximum financial payout with a new team, the organization has been privately adamant that they'd never do it, league sources said. If James wanted to force his way to the Clippers, he'd have to create the fear within Miami that it could lose him for nothing to a team with the salary cap space to sign him.
Beyond the Clippers, the Houston Rockets are working to free the salary cap space to pursue James to partner him with All-Stars Dwight Howard and James Harden. The Cleveland Cavaliers have held on to hopes that a reunion could be possible, should James decide that he wants to return to his Ohio home.
The opt-out had been anticipated for James, who can work with the Heat on a new deal. For Paul, this is a chance to earn a commission on his first contract with James. Creative Arts Agency negotiated deals for James, Wade and Bosh in the summer of 2010, but will no longer receive commission on James' renegotiated deal with Miami, or a new deal elsewhere.
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