Source: Birdman to opt out of current Heat deal to become unrestricted free agent

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Andersen may or may not return to the Heat next season after all.

After a bitter loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5, where does the Heat roster go from here?

In the case of Birdman, we may not have the answer until next month or possibly further along into the offseason.

According to Yahoo! Sports, he will opt out of his Miami Heat contract signed last year and decline his $1.5 million player option for next season. Whether that means he flies away to another city remains to be seen.

The Heat's most reliable option in the middle during the Big 3 era will turn 36 on July 6 but had low mileage for the past few years as he sought to get his NBA career back on track after being an amnesty cut by the Denver Nuggets. Though hobbled in the NBA Finals by a thigh bruise suffered earlier in the playoffs, Andersen was again huge off the bench in his first full season with the Heat after joining in early 2013 just before the team embarked on their historic 27-game win streak and their second straight championship.

For the 2013-14 season, Birdman was still being paid $4.8 million by the Nuggets for the final year of his original contract to go along with his Heat paychecks. He could now command more than his current salary on the open market and may seek a bigger payday elsewhere on what may likely be his last NBA contract.

As the Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman notes, if Birdman returns to the Heat at the veteran's minimum it halves the team's cap and tax obligation.

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