NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to see the NBA’s draft age eligibility reduced to 18 again, saying last summer, “I think [reducing the age limit] would be the right thing to do. I am hopeful that that’s a change we make in this next collective bargaining cycle.”
However, Silver may be on an island with this push, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Neither side at the CBA negotiating table — the owners or players union — are highly motivated to make the change.
[Players union] members say they see little benefit to allowing a new class of teenagers to come in and take roster spots from veterans. And NBA executives are openly dreading the idea of returning to high school gyms and being forced to make career-altering decisions with limited information at their disposal. Sources say the union is indicating that in order to give Adam Silver — who is the clear-cut driving force behind the elimination of the age limit — what he desires in collective bargaining agreement negotiations in 2024, they expect to receive major financial concessions from team owners in exchange for this bargaining chip, something that may not be attractive to franchises since many believe that making the league even younger will water down the talent level.
Silver works for — and negotiates the CBA on behalf of — the owners. If a majority of them do not want to give up anything to move the age limit back to 18, it again is something that could be pushed aside during the talks as the sides focus more on what matters to them (money).
Another sticking point is the league wants agents of the 18-year-olds to provide every team with full medical reports on their players, and for those players to have to participate in some level of the NBA Draft Combine. Agents are not fans of this idea, they see withholding medical information as the one little bit of leverage they have in the draft process if they want to steer their clients away from franchises they don’t see as a good fit (or ones where endorsement money is harder to come by).
The NCAA’s report from Condoleezza Rice’s Commission On College Basketball called for the end of the NBA’s one-and-done rule, a compromise neither side particularly loves. Silver took that to heart and is motivated, he has talked publicly about lowering the age limit as the “right thing to do.” What Silver wants he can often get by winning enough owners over to his side of the argument, but if the union asks a high price to put the age limit change in the next CBA, it could die another death on the negotiating table.