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Should the NBA age limit go up? One more year? Two?

Aug 11, 2011, 2:16 PM EDT

Lebron-James_draft AP

Interesting tweet Thursday from Mike Rice, the college basketball coach at Rutgers (via Pete Thamel of the New York Times):

I keep hearing NBA owners want to adopt same rule as NFL. Players will have to wait 3 yrs to enter the draft.

I am not mentioning this because I trust the coaches sources, but rather the debate is interesting and alive as part of the ongoing labor talks. Right now the rule is players need to be one year out of high school to enter the NBA draft, which has led to the one-and-done college player, a system nobody really likes. The owners have hinted at wanting to increase that number, the players union says it wants to abolish it completely.

You can bet Rice and his fellow college coaches like the idea of locking up the best players for three years (and there is trickle down, if John Wall still has a year at Kentucky some good young point guard is going to go somewhere else, like maybe Rutgers). There is no doubt that would be good for the college game.

But to me it is fundamentally un-American to tell someone “you have the skills but you can’t earn a living doing it yet.” This isn’t making a person wait to drive or drink — those are issues of societal safety. This is taking years of earnings away from someone. Why should LeBron James need to go to three years of college when he was ready at 18 to play in the NBA? Again, we can go down the list of guys in the league now (Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett) who came straight out of high school and adjusted. (For the record, I get it more in the NFL where no 18 year old is strong enough physically for the pounding at the next level.)

The owners want a higher age limit because they want players to develop on somebody else’s dime. They think they can make better draft choices if their scouts get a couple more years to watch players (they don’t make better choices, they just find new busts). They see it as getting free player development and reduced risks.

Personally, I like the baseball rule: You can get drafted right out of high school, but if you are not you have to spend three years in college.

It’s hard to see this as being a sticking point in negotiations, not compared to the issues of money anyway. But don’t be shocked if the age limit goes up in these talks, if the owners are insistent this is an area where the players may give in.

  1. jthammerstix - Aug 11, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    John wall is garbage

    • cosanostra71 - Aug 11, 2011 at 7:31 PM

      you’re garbage.

      Wall may have the most potential of any of the Calipari guards of recent years (Knight, Evans, and yes even Rose).

      And let me clarify the Rose comment- I’m not saying he is better or even will become better, but with his natural passing ability he has the potential.

  2. goforthanddie - Aug 11, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    21 to play in the Association. You can be drafted before, but you play overseas or the D-League.

  3. rajbais - Aug 11, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Yes there should be a “TWO and THROUGH” rule because teenagers are too stupid to handle a “million dollar life”!!!!

    Even with that, why shouldn’t the NBA have a rule where the D-League can allow teenagers to play, but they’re eligible for their affiliated teams starting in December!!! The only condition is that their salaries are at the league minimum of $785,000, two years long with a team option after year one, and they’re restricted free agents after both years!!!

  4. redbear18 - Aug 11, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    I think two years or the baseball rule would work. Really, the college game is watered down, and NBA rookies aren’t as good immediately. Something like this should happen.

  5. cosanostra71 - Aug 11, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    The maturity level is important as well. Many have heard about how Kwame Brown came to the NBA and didn’t even know how to do his own laundry, so he just bought new clothes everytime he ran out of clean ones. Going to college gives these guys a chance to play in the limelight, to learn how to deal with the media, the travel schedule, etc. It’s not just about on court play.

  6. jthammerstix - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:02 AM

    You’re garbage*

  7. eazye76 - Aug 12, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    It’s probably not fair to the player, but increasing the age limit would benefit NBA and NCAA basketball.

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