Sunday, February 19, 2017


So at least NBA commish Adam Silver wants to think about this.

At least he wants to look at the NBA's unnecessary age limit, even if it's to make it worse -- he favors raising it to 20 from the current 19. But at least he wants to re-consider it, or so he said yesterday in his All-Star weekend news conference.

So that's something. God knows someone should be thinking about this, considering it's been so poorly thought-out to date.

Its substantive effect, after all, has been to damage the college basketball, in the sense that the sort of kids who used to jump to the NBA straight out of high school now must sit out a year before they can declare for the draft. This has resulted in a ludicrous situation: A select few players using college buckets as a waiting room for a year, and college coaches essentially prostituting themselves to get those players in hopes of making a Final Four run (and a run at a chunky contract extension, natch).

It's a complete sham on both ends of the dynamic, and even the principles know it. The players don't regard themselves as college students who have any particular loyalty to "their" school; they're just biding their time until their ship comes in. And the coaches don't really regard them as college students, either. It's simply a marriage of convenience for them.

Here's the problem: Silver casts abolishing this charade as some sort of conundrum, and it isn't one. He says the one-and-done thing has been overblown, because there aren't that many of them. He's right, but in pointing that out, he loses his own argument. Because if there aren't that many one-and-dones -- i.e., players who ordinarily would have declared for the draft right out of high school -- why is the 19-year-old rule necessary?

Silver frets that lowering the age limit to 18 raises troubling questions that would have to be considered. Yet the questions he raises have always been there. Why would they be issues now if they weren't when, say, Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant or LeBron James were coming to the NBA straight out of high school? And if the NBA is so concerned with the maturity level of those few 18-year-olds coming into the NBA, why not simply institute a rule that a player entering the NBA at 18 must play his first season in the D-League?

Its alleged purpose, after all, is player development.  It's right there in the name (or was, until Gatorade bought the title-sponsor rights the other day). So why not use the D-League for its intended purpose?

Give the kids a chance to learn how to be a pro. Let them find their professional footing in a less high-stakes environment.  Isn't that what the D-League does already?

Something else for Silver to think about.

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