Those hoping for a quick end to the NBA’s “one-and-done” rule probably didn’t like much of what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had to say about the issue from the league’s All-Star weekend Saturday night.
According to a transcript of the press conference, Silver was asked about a possible timeline for a change to the rule that currently prevents American players from being eligible to jump to the NBA until they are 19 years old and a year removed from high school graduation.
Silver acknowledged that NCAA officials had set up their Commission on College Basketball — led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — and league officials have had “discussions” with members of that group. NCAA President Mark Emmert confirmed those talks to the Herald-Leader and others at the NCAA Convention last month and said the Commission’s report on proposals for changes in college basketball is expected in April.
“We’ll be interested to see where they come out on that,” Silver said. “In terms of the NBA, we’re conflicted, to be honest. We’re outside of our cycle of collective bargaining right now which is when we generally address an issue like that. But (top players’ rep) Michele Roberts and I have also agreed there is no reason we shouldn’t at least be discussing it right now.”
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Silver said league officials have had meetings with the Players’ Association on the issue and have had discussions about getting more involved with top young basketball players, possibly even before they get to college.
He also said league officials think they have “a better draft” when they’re able to watch players compete at an elite level before they come to the NBA.
“On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger? Are we better off bringing them into the league when they’re 18 using our G League as it was designed to be as a development league and getting them minutes on the court there?” Silver said. “And there is also recognition that for some of these elite players, there is no question that they can perform in the NBA at 18 years old.”
Silver mentioned the league’s collective bargaining agreement multiple times in his answer. The current CBA will run through at least the 2022-23 season, and he pointed out that changes such as this one usually happen in negotiations related to the CBA.
A more deliberate approach to the issue means changes are probably a ways off.
“We’re not by any means rushing through this,” Silver said. “I think this is a case where, actually, outside of the cycle of collective bargaining, we can spend more time on it with the Players’ Association, talking to the individual players, talking to the executive board and really trying to understand the pros and cons of potentially moving the age limit.”
Emmert, when talking at the NCAA Convention last month, didn’t have much to offer on any changes to the one-and-done rule.
“You’ll have to talk to them,” Emmert said of the NBA. “Ultimately, it’s their decision ensconced in their collective bargaining agreement. This is hardly the first time that this issue has been discussed. The Commission and those two individuals (Silver and Roberts) had a great exchange.”
Of the 39 high school players that John Calipari signed at UK in his first eight recruiting classes, 20 have gone to the NBA after one season with the Wildcats, and all of those players have been drafted in the first round.
Silver was also asked Saturday about the comments from a Fox News commentator last week that professional basketball players — such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant — should “shut up and dribble” and keep social and political views to themselves.
“Well, let me begin by saying I’m incredibly proud of our players for using the platform they have as players in the NBA and on social media to speak out on issues that are important to them,” Silver said. “And I was proud of LeBron and Kevin’s response to the comments that were made about them.
“I think even when I hear it even related to the one-and-done issue when people say that the one-and-done players shouldn’t be in college because they don’t care about an education, I think is incredibly unfair to them. Just because they have enormous opportunity in the way maybe Bill Gates did or Mark Zuckerberg to create enormous wealth for themselves and their families certainly doesn’t mean they don’t care about an education. Many of them go on to continue to educate themselves, whether through going back to school in the summer, taking courses, doing things post-playing career. So it frustrates me.”