The early end to LeBron James’ NBA season will provide the Lakers star far more free time this summer than he has had in nearly a decade, but he won’t fill it with more basketball.
The Lakers announced Saturday that James has been shut down for the rest of the season so he can allow a nagging groin injury to heal. Los Angeles had been eliminated from the playoff race a week earlier.
James told The Athletic he does not plan to join Team USA for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, which will be played in China from Aug. 31-Sept. 15, despite his fondness for new U.S. coach Gregg Popovich.
That had been James’ plan all along, as he is set to spend a good portion of his summer filming “Space Jam 2” with production set to begin in mid-June. The Athletic reported that a regulation basketball court will be built on-set to allow James to continue to train during filming.
Depending on how James feels next season, though, he might still represent his country one more time. He said he hasn’t made a decision yet about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Yeah, that’s a possibility,” LeBron told The Athletic. “It depends on how I feel. I love the Olympics.”
James sat out the Rio Games in 2016 but had participated in the previous three Olympics, helping the U.S. to gold medals in 2012 and 2008 and a bronze in 2004.