It’s not a secret that Adam Silver has made it a priority in his first year as the NBA’s commissioner to push the league’s age limit back to 20 years old.
And now he has the backing of a majority of the NBA’s owners.
That’s what Silver said after exiting two days of owners meetings. The league will not be changing the age limit for the 2014-2015 season — they cannot start negotiating until the NBA Player’s Union has named an executive director — it’s not crazy to think that the one-and-done era in college basketball may be over with by the 2016 NBA Draft.
What’s interesting is that Silver reached out to NCAA president Mark Emmert and inviting him into the meetings, an effort to discuss ways to make college a more effective and fair development system for the NBA. Topics ranged from reducing the shot clock at the college level to full cost-of-attendance scholarships to more financial incentives to remain an “amateur” for longer.
“If we’re going to be successful in raising the age from 19 to 20, part and parcel in those negotiations goes to the treatment of players on those college campuses and closing the gap between what their scholarships cover and their expenses,” Silver told Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. “We haven’t looked specifically at creating a financial incentive for them to stay in college. That’s been an option that has been raised over the years, but that’s not something that is on the table right now.”
One theory that has even reportedly been pitched would be to require a player to be three years removed from high school graduation to enter the draft, but to raise the NBA D-League’s pay beyond the maximum of $28,000, making it a viable alternative to college.
Whatever the case may be, raising the age limit makes perfect business sense for the NBA. We’ve been over this time and time again, but the longer the NBA is allowed to wait to draft a prospect, the better feel they are going to have for just what kind of player that prospect is going to be down the road. Two years of scouting at the college level — and the chance to see how the athlete develops between his freshman and sophomore seasons — would be valuable information to have.
It also reduces the amount of time that the NBA’s owners will have to pay to develop these prospects. The way the system is currently set up, the elite prospects — the guys that can go one-and-done — might need a year or two in the NBA before they are ready to be contributors. The NBA funds that by paying their salaries. Drafting a player a year later in their development will save owners millions in salary. If you can’t see why that is a no-brainer for the NBA’s money men than I hope you never open your own business.
On the college side of things, it’s tough to really know just what kind of impact this move will have. The way the system is currently set up, it may drive more players to skip college and turn pro in one of basketball’s minor leagues. It may turn Kentucky into a team that would make the Playoffs in the Eastern Conference. It may result in the NCAA finally realizing their arcane amateurism rules are absurd. At this point, there is such a push for a structural change in how we view student-athletes at the highest level of men’s basketball, it’s tough to predict just how that will play out.
But whatever the case may be, it sounds like the NBA’s age limit will be 20 sooner rather than later.