Back in 2005, the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement negotiated a deal to raise the age limit for draftees to 19 and/or stipulate that incoming players must be at least one year removed from high school. At the time, it came off the heels of an era when several young high school stars had flamed out prematurely as it became evident they weren’t adequately equipped for the rigors of NBA life, both on and off the court.
For every LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, the thinking went, there were scores of cautionary tales that prompted us to reconsider the wisdom behind throwing such young and impressionable prospects into the meat-grinder. But a lot has changed since then. For example, the league’s rookie transition program has provided tremendous support for navigating the oftentimes treacherous territory of the pro sports landscape, dotted as it is with personal and financial pitfalls.
In short, there’s been a sea change of public opinion about the age limit, namely regarding the problematic ethics of denying young athletes the opportunity to earn as much income as they’re worth on the open market.
That’s why commissioner Adam Silver told The Washington Post that he believes the league’s one-and-done rule will likely be gone in the next few years.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has made clear he thinks the controversial one-and-done rule is no longer good policy, and he said Thursday at an event in Washington that the 2022 draft likely will allow the best high school players to jump straight into the NBA rather than playing a single season of college before turning pro.
“There are a bunch of issues that need to be worked through between us and the players association, so it’s something we’re in active discussions about,” Silver said. “It’s a few years away, I think.”
It is, of course, a matter that the league, the players, and the owners will have to hash out during the next collective bargaining rounds, though it’s an idea that’s gained traction in recent years, particularly in light of the NCAA’s refusal to entertain the notion of compensating college athletes.
The G-League has already spearheaded a new initiative starting next season designed at targeting high school prospects who, for various reasons, might opt to forego their mandatory year of college and earn wages to play professionally in the NBA’s development ranks.
As Silver notes, eliminating the age limit is still likely a couple of years down the road, but it’s clear that the commissioner and other interested parties are doing their best to speak it into existence as soon as possible.