The move is not unexpected, as James has long been expected to opt out and see how the Cavaliers handle free agency. After Thursday’s draft, free agency will begin on Wednesday.
By opting out, James would be bypassing his $21.5 million player option. It would also mark the third time in six years James has reached unrestricted free agency.
James can first sign a new contract on July 9. The deadline for him to pick up his current player option is Monday. The Cavaliers “weren’t even expecting the notification they received from him” regarding the option, reports Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon.
Earlier this week, Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes reported James would be taking a “wait-and-see approach” while the Cavaliers move through free agency. The team has contract decisions to make regarding forward Kevin Love, center Tristan Thompson and guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova.
James signed a two-year, $42 million contract with the Cavaliers last summer after previous stints with the Miami Heat and Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 53 games this regular season, but lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
- Mike Fiammetta