The Cleveland Cavaliers star, who had one of the best NBA Finals in history despite ending up on the losing side to the Golden State Warriors over six games, will opt out of a $21.6m (??13.78m) player option to test his feet in the open market.??
It is widely thought that James will choose to remain in Cleveland as he shares the same agent as team-mate Tristan Thompson, who was the defensive leader for the team.??
The Cavaliers are expected to offer James a gargantuan four-year contract this week but are only able to offer him a maximum of about $22m per year under league rules.
It is likely James will take the deal for 12 months and then becomes a free agent next year after salary caps and maximum players’ payments both rise.
James averaged 34.2 points and 14.4 rebounds in the NBA Finals against Golden State, and 25.3 points per game during the regular season.??
He led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals virtually on his own after Kevin Love’s injury in the opening series win against the Boston Celtics and for most of the final series after Kyrie Irving was hurt.??
Cleveland are expected to offer Love, who was somewhat combative with James during the first few months of their relationship, a $110m deal over five years.
This is the third time that James has become a free agent in six years – and the first two times he left his previous sides.
Firstly for Cleveland, in a controversially televised show called ‘The Decision’, he decided to “take his talents” to Miami, and then when at the Heat, where he decided that he wanted to win a title back with the Cavaliers.