LeBron turns down FIBA World Cup, open to 2020 Olympics
NBA.com Global on Apr 02, 2019 07:48 AM
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 24: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers as seen during the game against the Sacramento Kings on March 24, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) (EDITORS NOTE this image has been converted to black and white)
NBA.com staff report
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is ready for his first offseason without a playoff appearance since 2005.
In an interview with Joe Vardon of The Athletic, James says his basketball plans are "damn near set" for an offseason that began on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) when James sat out his first of six games to close out L.A.'s disappointing season. The Lakers, 35-42, were eliminated from playoff contention on March 23 (Mar. 24, PHL time). The team shut down James so he could have more time to heal his injured left groin.
James -- who has reached the NBA Finals every season since 2010 -- is eager to utilize extra training time this offseason.
“I’ve had basically the same offseason training regimen the last eight years,” James told The Athletic. “I knew how long I wanted to rest for the season on a short timeline. I’m figuring out now how to get as much as I can out of two months of extra time for training. It requires a totally different strategy. We’re looking at it in an entirely new way.”
James will begin production on "Space Jam 2" this summer and, according to Vardon, the set will feature a full-length basketball court so James can train during production. The film, which is produced by James' SpringHill Entertainment, is scheduled to release in July 2021 -- 25 years after the original film starring Michael Jordan was released in 1996.
Because of the busy production schedule, James won't join coach Gregg Popovich and Team USA during the FIBA World Cup in China this summer.
"I love everything about Pop, obviously," James told The Athletic. "But this is not a good summer for me."
However, James didn't rule out being involved with the team for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.
"Yeah, that's a possibility. It depends on how I feel. I love the Olympics."
James is a three-time Olympic medalist, winning gold in 2008 and 2012 with Team USA and bronze in 2004.
In his first season with the Lakers, the 36-year-old averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists and passed Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
He missed a career-high 17 straight games with a left groin strain that he suffered against the Golden State Warriors on December 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time).