The NBA and NBA Players Association are expected to agree on moving the age eligibility for the NBA Draft from 19 to 18, clearing the way for the return of high school players making the NBA leap, per sources with knowledge of the discussions. The reduced age limit for high school-to-NBA jumps would go into effect as early as the 2024 NBA Draft.
Commissioner Adam Silver said in July that he was “hopeful” for the rule changing in the next collective bargaining agreement cycle, and both sides appear motivated to reduce the age eligibility for the draft.
The NBA set the draft age limit at 19 years old in 2005. Team owners and front-office executives couldn’t help themselves from investing high draft picks and tens of millions of dollars in teenagers straight out of high school. There were a bunch of success stories: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James and Dwight Howard can attest to that, among many others.
However, not everybody coming out of high school was as good as those players, and some were busts in the NBA. So the league’s solution was to make them wait one more year before reaching the NBA and earning millions of dollars, sparking the term “the one-and-done rule.”
Since 2005, the sports landscape has undergone dramatic changes and opened up more doors for 18-year-olds to make money before they reach the NBA. The biggest change came in June 2021 when the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that the NCAA could not limit education-related payments to student-athletes and that college players can be compensated through name, image and likeness deals. Players can also forgo college and make money by joining the G League or playing overseas.
With a Dec. 15 mutual opt-out date looming for the NBA and the Players Association under their current CBA, both sides are in the midst of serious conversations over key points that will make up the league’s new CBA. Top officials from the NBA and NBPA will hold their next in-person meeting at the end of this month, sources told The Athletic, a session that will set the stage for the final outcome.
For more on where the NBA and NBPA stand in CBA talks, read Shams Charania’s interview with NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio here.
(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)