It wasn’t surprising NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he wanted a harder salary cap.
What was surprising: the question Silver was answering:
If you could instantly change anything about the NBA, without having to negotiate the terms or compromise your position, what change would you make?
Repeatedly since becoming commissioner, Silver has described raising the age limit as his top priority. Talking about a hard cap first was a real shift for him.
Of course, Silver added his age-limit plans at the end of his response.
It’s still an important issue to Silver, one that will certainly come up as the next Collective Bargaining Agreement gets negotiated.
It’s also important to National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts
Roberts, via Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
“I’m adamantly opposed to [raising the age minimum],” Roberts said. “I’ve been practicing law for 30 years. One of the beauties of being in that job is that I can practice until I lose my mind or die. That is not the case with athletes. You have a limited life to make money as a basketball player. Anything that limits those opportunities is distressing to me. I view [the age minimum] as just another device that serves to limit a players’ ability to make a living.”
Roberts and Silver are staking out their positions before the 2017 work stoppage, and this might just fit with the other rhetoric designed to move where the compromise is met. But this seems like something more.
“Adamantly opposed” is not a soft phrase. Roberts really sounds, well, adamant.
I wonder how her constituents feel about that. Though the union’s principled stance is against a higher age minimum, it would actually help current players – the only players voting on the CBA. If 19-year-olds can’t join the league, that protects the jobs of players already in the NBA.
In practicality, the age limit makes sense as an area the players would concede – especially if doing so betters the deal for them elsewhere. But how will the “adamantly opposed” Roberts negotiate this issue?