NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is pushing the idea of upping the NBA’s age limit, mostly because the people he works for — the NBA owners — want it. We can debate whether it is a good idea or a fair one, and we can certainly dispute the idea that teams draft better and have fewer busts when they see guys longer (studies say otherwise, or just look at Michael Olowokandi). Still the fact is the owners want it.
The other fact is to get the age limit increased is a negotiation, part of the CBA with the players. To get it the Silver and the owners are going to have to give the players union something it wants….
Like a better paying D-League?
That’s the idea the league may float once the talks do begin, reports Sean Deveney of the Sporting News in a fascinating read.
According to multiple sources, a proposed plan that is circulating now would see the age limit extended from its current position — one year after high school graduation — to three years, essentially barring most players from entering the NBA until they are 20 or 21.
The sources said that, in order to pave the way for raising the age limit, the league would be willing to expand salaries in the D-League, giving each team a salary cap and allowing executives with each team to sign players as they wish. Not only would that allow D-League teams to sign good young players, it would allow NBA clubs to size up young executives and player evaluators.
None of these talks can happen until the union hires an executive director. That will take a few more months. At least.
There are currently three player pay classifications in the D-League and the highest one is $28,000 a year for this past season. That’s the most you can make, many make $15,000 total. Which means even if you’re a top D-League player you need another source of income.
What the league will undoubtedly pitch is that if they play a decent rate that a high school player who doesn’t want to go to college can head to the D-League and make at least a reasonable sum ($40,000 or more), that there would be another option other than college. Basically the league will pitch it is creating more jobs for players.
First, the league will pitch three years so that after negotiations they can get down to two. That’s now negotiations work.
But my guess is the players union will want more than just that to let this happen. We don’t know who they will bring in as executive director, but I’m pretty sure he/she will not be easily bought off with shiny trinkets.