LeBron to refocus after vacation

ByMichael Wallace ESPN logo
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MIAMI -- LeBron James said he remains uncertain if he will opt out of the remaining two years on his Miami Heat contract and will take a vacation with his family before contemplating his future.

James was among the Heat players who met with the coaching staff for season exit interviews Tuesday, two days after a demoralizing loss in five games to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

James said he was still largely dealing with the disappointment and sting from one of the most lopsided series in NBA history in which the Heat fell short of their quest for a third straight championship.

But the focus for the Heat now shifts to uncertain futures of their core players, with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all able to opt out of their contracts later this month to potentially test free agency.

James remained non-committal about his decision, but said all three players would get away with their families for a few days and then eventually meet to plot their respective course.

James, Wade and Bosh each have two seasons and at least $40 million remaining on the contracts they signed in 2010.

"There is a conversation that will be had between the three of us -- I think that's only right," James said. "We've earned that for each other. I don't know what Dwyane right now is thinking. I don't know what Chris is thinking right now. We'll see what happens."

Wade elected not to speak with reporters after his exit interview, which is the first time he's made that decision in the four seasons he has played with James and Bosh. Wade is coming off the worst performance in five trips to the Finals and was the subject of criticism for his sluggish overall play.

After a breakout series against Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals to help lead the Heat to their fourth straight Finals appearance, Wade averaged 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in the series against the Spurs. He shot just 43.8 percent from the field.

Bosh on Tuesday maintained that he wants to stay in Miami and believes the Heat's core will return intact. But he also anticipated there would have to be serious discussions among the players, team president Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison about the notion that the Big Three might have to opt out of their contracts and accept less money to create cap space to improve the roster.

James said he feels "more at ease" entering the process than he did four years ago when he left Cleveland after seven seasons to sign with the Heat as a free agent. James said he could learn a lesson from the summer of 2010, when he was criticized for announcing his decision during a television special on ESPN.

After winning two titles and advancing to the Finals four times since arriving in Miami, James also said there's really nothing specific the Heat's front office needs to do to make an impression.

"I don't need to hear anything," James said of what he expects from his meeting with Riley. "I understand what this franchise brings to the table. Like I said, I'm not at that point right now. When I get there, I will be ready to talk about it."

James did say he values the flexibility his contract options affords him to be able to evaluate every aspect of his present and future. James could opt out and sign a new deal worth up to $129 million over five seasons. The most another team could offer James, Wade or Bosh is a four-year, $96 million deal.

Should all three players bypass their opt-out clause, they would account for more than $61 million of salary cap that is projected to be about $63 million next season. That means Miami, which could have as many as 14 of its 15 players enter free agency next month, would have limited resources to upgrade the roster in some regards.

"I'm in position to be able to do that," James said of having flexibility. "Not saying I want to take that option right now. I'm not sure yet. There's a lot of time when you're not in control of your future in professional sports. I've been fortunate to have two opportunities to do that -- in 2010, and if I decide to use it now, I can be in control of my future now."

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