Given how poorly "The Decision" got received, it's just as unlikely LeBron James will announce he's taking his talents to Oak Street Beach as it is he'll stage another TV special to announce his free-agency decision.
But this is for certain: NBA free agency, which begins July 1, added more speculative fun to an already busy schedule on Tuesday.
James informed the Heat he is opting out of the final two years and $42.7 million of his contract, the team confirmed. The move, widely interpreted to help -- or force, depending on perspective -- Heat President Pat Riley into making roster improvements, could be followed by similar opt-outs from teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Suddenly, it's 2010 all over again in terms of a flooded free-agent market.
As of now, the Bulls plan to pursue Carmelo Anthony and are widely considered the favorite to land him if he chooses to leave the Knicks, which is in question.
The Bulls are scheduled to have only $11 million to $12 million of salary-cap space when they proceed with the likely amnesty of Carlos Boozer. They would have to get creative and sell off pieces for nothing to create more cap space or hope the Knicks engage in sign-and-trade talks.
A similar path would need to be taken to land James in the unlikely chance he leaves the Heat. The Bulls may have to hope a star helps them by signing for less and using off-the-court avenues to recoup money. For instance, Derrick Rose's Adidas contract dwarfs his substantial Bulls' payday.
If James does embark on a free-agent tour, expect the Bulls to get involved. Their pitch in 2010 resonated strongly with James, particularly a discussion with coach Tom Thibodeau.
In fact, sources at the time indicated to the Tribune the Bulls were optimistic they could land James and Wade, who visited with the team twice, despite a widespread public perception that he, Wade and Bosh were destined for the Heat all along.
By opting out, James can sign a five-year, $115 million contract with the Heat. His suitors, should he listen to them, can offer a four-year $86 million deal.
Riley, who spoke at a news conference last week about what it might take to keep the core of the team together, issued this statement on James' decision:
"We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise. As I said at the press conference last week, players have a right to free agency and when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options. The last four seasons have been historic and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra have led the Miami HEAT to one of the most unprecedented runs in the history of the NBA. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together."
So does any team with salary-cap space and a winning pedigree, of course. And now, the Bulls, long shot as it may be, could get that chance.
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