San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, one of James' favorite coaches, will lead the U.S. team in this summer's World Cup. Despite Popovich calling the shots, James told The Athletic on Monday that he never intended to play in the World Cup.
"I love everything about Pop, obviously, but this is not a good summer for me," James said.
Despite declining to play in the World Cup, James didn't rule out playing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
"Yeah, that's a possibility," James said. "It depends on how I feel. I love the Olympics."
Instead of playing in China this summer, James will train and film "Space Jam 2." Production for the movie begins this summer, according to The Athletic. The sequel, which stars James, is scheduled for a July 2021 release. The movie's production schedule was planned on the knowledge that James wouldn't play this summer.
James missed the NBA postseason this year for the first time since the 2005 campaign. His regular season ended last week when the Lakers shut down the star forward for the remainder of this season.
The 34-year-old James played in a career-low 55 games in 2018 due to a groin injury. Los Angeles head coach Luke Walton and the franchise opted to end James' season with six games left.
"He wants to play," Walton told ESPN. "But it's one of those things where the medical staff just finally said, 'Look, it's just not worth it anymore. Let's make sure you have a healthy summer.' So that's the decision that was made, and we'll move forward without him on the floor for the final six."
James averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists this season while shooting 51 percent from the field. He is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, last playing in the 2012 Games in London. He skipped the 2016 Olympics.