LeBron James is coming off of his first season for the Los Angeles Lakers, one in which he played his fewest games and fewest total minutes by a significant margin.
Because of this and his six-month summer after getting shut down for the 2018-19 NBA season at the end of March, many felt that he might join Team USA this summer as sort of a rehab assignment.
Team USA will head to China at the beginning of September to fight for qualification in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Those rumors were quickly shut down when it was announced that James had no plans to play in China at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, regardless of how the Lakers season went. However, he’s not ruling out a gold medal run in 2020, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
LeBron's not playing for Team USA this summer, and never intended to, even after he learned he was out of the playoffs. But the 2020 Olympics are still on the table https://t.co/rCy6QdISVE
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) April 1, 2019
James declined the invitation to play in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, making the last time he competed at the 2012 Olympics. In 2012, the United States took home the gold medal in London, England with a team led by James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and many other NBA stars.
James returning to the Olympics in 2020 would be surprising as the Lakers hope to actually be a playoff team and possibly even a title contender. If James is asked to make another run into June, it seems unlikely that he would want to rack up more minutes on the court.
Skipping out on 2019 is a smart thing for James to do. He now has six months until preseason begins to fully heal and get real rest, a time frame he hasn’t had in 13 seasons.