Why did LeBron James opt out?
Maybe to make more money.
Unlike Carmelo Anthony, who automatically accepted a lower 2014-15 salary by opting out, LeBron could make more next season.
LeBron’s current contract calls for a 2014-15 salary of $20,590,000. With a projected salary cap of $63.2 million, he stands to make $20,659,633 in the first-year of a new max contract. He’d also make more – $22,209,105 vs. $22,112,500 – in the second year.
Here’s LeBron’s max salary on a new max contract (gold) and salary on his existing deal (red):
I doubt LeBron is preoccupied with making an additional $69,633 next season (and $96,605 if he stayed in contract the year after).
LeBron is positioned to listen to other pitches, pressure Arison, take a pay cut to make room for other players and/or make more money. Opting out gives him options.
If he wanted to opt in, why do that rather than opting out and re-signing a two-year deal with a player option for those slightly higher amounts? His flexibility and the Heat’s ability to sign free agents would remain identical.
LeBron had a chance to give himself a small raise. He might have different aspirations, but he’s at least keeping that door open. I doubt many of us would reject that opportunity.