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LeBron dumps Heat deal for free agency

MIAMI -- NBA superstar LeBron James told the Miami Heat on Tuesday that he will exercise an early termination option in his contract and become a free agent.

Richie Paul, James' agent, told the team of his client's decision, which came ahead of a deadline next Monday to decide whether or not to opt out of the last two years of his Miami contract.

Heat president Pat Riley claimed the move was not a surprise and that he looks forward to new contract talks with the NBA's biggest current star.

“I was informed this morning of his intentions,” Riley said in a statement. “We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise.”

The move does not prevent James from re-signing with the Heat, and could give the club greater flexibility to add talent and remain within NBA salary cap rules.

“We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together,” Riley said.

James, who was set to make US$20 million next season, won his first career NBA titles with the Heat in 2012 and 2013. He also led Miami to the NBA Finals in 2011, when Dallas beat the Heat, and this year, when Miami lost to San Antonio.

After the Heat's last loss in the NBA Finals, James said he wanted time on vacation with his family before considering his future plans.

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