The Sports Xchange

NBA roundup: James to test free agent waters

LeBron James is opting out of the final year of his contract with the Miami Heat to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

James, forward Chris Bosh and guard Dwyane Wade can all opt out of their current contracts. James passes on a $20.56 million salary for 2014-15 to test the open market, where a barrage of interest can be expected.

"Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that's what we all would like," James said last week. "That's in any sport, for a football player, a baseball player, a basketball player, to have flexibility and be able to control your future or your present. I have a position to be able to do that. ... There's a lot of times that you're not in control of your future as a professional."

According to Yahoo Sports, a meeting is scheduled soon between the stars to discuss options. One such possibility is all three taking less salary to lure another star -- or improved, across-the-board depth -- to the roster and be better equipped to handle balanced contenders. Heat president Pat Riley downplayed reports that Carmelo Anthony, who opted out of his deal with the New York Knicks, could be the team's top target.

Riley, who called the Carmelo play a "pipedream," sternly voiced displeasure with the idea that the Big Three, united via free agency in 2010 when James left the Cleveland Cavaliers, needed to test the waters.

"We fully expected LeBron to opt out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise," Riley said in a statement. "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."

By opting out of his contract, James has gained great contractual leverage. Any team interested in James will keep its books open, and perhaps create additional cap space, knowing James will be on the market.

The possibilities include remaining in Miami. Depending on James' motives, he could get far more money on a max contract -- $120 million -- than he could be joining another team. But James indicated following Miami's NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs that he wants the best team, not the most money. Teams can begin hosting James July 1 and contracts can be signed starting July 8.

---On a day when LeBron James opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat, guard Ray Allen indicated he would like to return to play another year alongside James.

In two seasons with the Heat, Allen and James have formed a close bond. After the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Heat for the NBA title, James and Allen vacationed together last week.

If Allen does return for his 19th NBA season, he wants to play with James in Miami or another team. Allen had considered retiring and intimated as much after the NBA Finals.

The 38-year-old Allen appeared in 79 regular-season games and all 20 in the postseason with the Heat, averaging 9.3 points per game.

---Point guard Isaiah Thomas will be a restricted free agent in July when the Sacramento Kings officially make a $1.1 million qualifying offer to retain refusal rights.

General manager Pete D'Alessandro confirmed to the Sacramento Bee that Thomas would receive the offer, keeping him out of a crowded free agent crop of point guards. Thomas averaged 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game last season, his first in a regular role following the trade of point guard Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans last July.

Small forward Rudy Gay picked up his player option for next season and center DeMarcus Cousins was re-signed last summer. Including Thomas, the trio gave the Kings the only trio in the NBA last season with three players averaging at least 20 points.

---Forward Taj Gibson and guard Tony Snell, former first-round picks of the Chicago Bulls, are part of the team's offer to the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star Kevin Love.

According to reports, the Bulls would also include their pair of first-round picks in Thursday's draft -- 16th and 19th overall.