Wade follows LeBron, opts out as well


The Sports Network

Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Dwyane Wade will be joining good buddy LeBron James on the free agent market, with the perennial All-Star guard informing the Miami Heat Saturday that he will exercise an early termination option on his contract.

The news comes four days after James also opted out of his deal to become a free agent, and less than two weeks after the Heat's run of back-to-back titles came to an end with a five-game loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

Forward Udonis Haslem, Miami's longest-tenured player along with Wade, also announced Saturday that he will decline the option on his current contract in hopes of landing a new pact with the team.

"Today we were notified of Dwyane's intention to opt-out of his contract and Udonis' intention to not opt into his contract, making both players free agents," Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement.

Center Chris Bosh, the other member of Miami's famed "Big Three", is expected to follow suit and opt out of his deal as well.

The decisions by Wade and Haslem -- and likely Bosh -- are viewed as an effort by the players to enable the Heat to both retain James and give the team enough financial flexibility to maintain a championship-contending roster. Wade and Bosh were set to earn over $20 million each this coming season.

Both Wade and Haslem have been with the Heat since 2003 and are the last remaining members from Miami's first NBA championship team in 2006. Wade was the MVP of that year's Finals and owns the franchise's career records for points, assists and games played. Haslem is the Heat's all-time leading rebounder and ranks second only to Wade in career games.

"Dwyane has been the cornerstone of our organization for over a decade, and we hope he remains a part of the Heat family for life. Udonis has been the heartbeat of this team for 11 years. He has sacrificed countless times to make this organization successful, and he is the epitome of what this organization stands for," said Riley. "We look forward to meeting with Dwyane and Udonis and their agent in the coming days to discuss our future together."

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