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Among Adam Silver’s priorities: Raising NBA age limit

Feb 8, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Kings vs. Raptors Getty Images

During the lockout, the issue of the NBA’s age limit was put to the side. The owners wanted to up the age to 20, the players wanted to do away with it again, and in the interest of getting a deal done it was tabled to later.

It is still laying on the table.

New NBA commissioner Adam Silver was the NBA’s “bad cop” negotiator in the last lockout (to David Stern’s “good cop”) and now Silver would like to take the age limit off the table, reports Scott Howard Cooper of

Whoever that executive director is, he is not likely to go for this… unless Silver has some other concessions he plans to give the players.

This is a sign that Silver understands where his bread is buttered — he works for the owners, and the owners want that higher limit.

Why? As discussed here before it is about their impression of risk — owners see money wasted on young players who do not pan out as predicted and think if scouts have more time to see a players in college it will limit some draft mistakes. They will have more time to evaluate players. As an added benefit it would allow players more time to build up marketing star power before they get to the NBA.

As I have said before, I don’t think upping the age does what the owners hope it will — draft busts are not some new phenomenon. NBA teams were making bust draft picks when they got to see players for years Michael Olowokandi spent three years in college, how did that work out? It’s not just him, but a long list of busts who spent time in college.

But this is something the owners want. Understandably. Why not get players to develop for another year on someone else’s dime, not theirs? It’s just not something the players will easily go for, especially with a feistier Chris Paul as the president of the players’ union.

  1. mrhonorama - Feb 8, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Moreover, I’ve heard that insurance salesman Cliff Paul has just obtained a law degree, and will join his long lost brother as the players’ lead counsel. The new commish will have a fight on his hands.

    • adoombray - Feb 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      please stop glorifying what large corporations program you to say while not watching basketball.

  2. rjmarrella - Feb 8, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    It seems to me, that aside from draft busts, a lot of players are getting drafted after their freshman year and they simply are good enough yet. (there are always exceptions) as a sixes fan, I look at Thad Young. Very good player. Solid. 25. But the sixes had to wait 7 years for him to develop. These players will benefit from the seasoning. As would the teams cutting them checks.

    • bkbell3 - Feb 8, 2014 at 6:33 PM

      Really that’s false. In college you have restrictions all year round as to when,where and how you can practice and how much you can play in season and off season. In the NBA it’s your job all year round and you have huge coaching and training staffs to help you and no restrictions as to how much you can train and play. In college you also have to go to class and study as well. This about using college as a FREE minor league system and not having to scout high kids which needs bigger and more expensive scouting staffs.Also the sooner a player starts his NBA career the more earning years he has and if he gets hurt in college he is screwed, there goes the big bucks.Colleges and college coaches make millions off these kids for free and then use their names and likenesses to make even more money during and after college and the kids get squat. You can at 18 go to war and die for your country but you can’t get a job in the NBA?

      • bkbell3 - Feb 8, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        Meant high school kids not high

  3. time4complaints - Feb 8, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    I thought that was the point of the D-League? The fact is most players develop better playing basketball full time against better competition. The players could definitely benefit from the seasoning but players that aren’t NBA ready should start off in the D-League. In Europe players in all sports grow up in their clubs respective development systems from a young age and it leads to better fundamentals. Having a 6’8″ guy play out off position in college as a center, because he is a “big” at the college level, when he is destined to play on the wing in the NBA, doesn’t foster development and a lot of guys are forced to play out of position while in college.

    • fanofthegame79 - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      This is an outstanding point.

    • dinofrank60 - Feb 8, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      This means that the NBA has to stop viewing colleges as the primary source of labor; the NBA should’ve controlled this years ago.

  4. seanb20124 - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Every active player should vote for a higher age limit. It protects the older players employment

    • therealhtj - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      The 450 or so scrubs in the league should also vote on tighter caps on max contracts and removing guaranteed contracts. There’ll be more money for them instead of being tied up in the 20-30 max guys and when a guy with a bigger contract starts to fall off, it’ll free up a slot for one of them.

      They need to face the facts that the cap isn’t going to get less restrictive as the disparity between large and small markets grows and Silver sounds like more of a hard liner than even Stern was. The League will likely not back off their stance on a hard cap once the agreement is up for renegotiation and this time they can miss a season to make it happen – something no one wants. The vast majority of the players union needs to really wise up and vote for their best interests. They won’t. They’ll cry about blood issues and other rhetoric while throwing 95% of the union under the bus. It’ll end up being a lose-lose for everyone.

      • fanofthegame79 - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        We need to stop with the big market/small market argument. Some of the best teams in the last few seasons come from small to medium markets: Indiana, Miami, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio. Moreover, some of the big market teams are doing terrible: Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. It’s about smart GM’s making the right choices either through trades, free agency, and drafting. Just look at what a bad GM can do with great draft picks in Cleveland.

      • therealhtj - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        The small markets aren’t going to back off their demands for tighter restrictions on spending and free agent. They can’t. It’s not baseball or football where cheap young talent can win you a championship.

        Obviously drafting well and wise team management will get you far, but in the NBA, if you’ve got more money to throw around, it’ll swing in your favor every time. If the Knicks or Lakers could pay a team of all-stars 30mil each to play for them, they would. That’s not an option in OKC or San Antonio. The rules currently in place are the precise rules that allow them to be successful. For the poorly run small markets, those rules allow them to at least be profitable.

        The players want to move to a more open market system like baseball. The podunk markets want to mirror the NFL model. I do know one thing – You take away the spending and player movement restrictions, and it’ll be a big market v big market NBA finals almost every year.

      • detectivejimmymcnulty - Feb 8, 2014 at 3:53 PM

        Just like the Yankees play the Dodgers every year? This argument has been proven wrong time and time again. Money doesn’t make a front office smarter.

      • therealhtj - Feb 8, 2014 at 4:27 PM

        The best player in the world can take a bunch of scrubs to the NBA finals unlike baseball. The baseball comparisons in this regard are totally misguided.

        You need 2-3 all-star caliber players to potentially get you into the NBA finals. If a big market could overpay to get those players, odds are good they will and the players will come. If the really big markets could pay whatever they want without restriction, the small markets would lose all their star caliber players at their first crack at free agency.

        Don’t act like this is so far fetched. The only reason the small markets can compete is because of the CBA. It took 30 years of tighter and tighter cap and player movement restrictions to finally knock the Lakers off their perch, but I’m sure those of you that take pleasure in that sort of thing can appreciate the CBA for that without taking into account the big picture of just how bad for the game as whole it is.

  5. metalhead65 - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    did I miss the rule that says NBA teams must draft kids that come out early? is there a law that says just because a kid wants to play in the NBA that teams must draft them? seems pretty simple to me,if they are not ready or good enough to play and help your team now then don’t draft them. I thought that is why they had a D-league?

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 8, 2014 at 2:30 PM


    • dinofrank60 - Feb 8, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      Clubs are scared that they are going to miss out on the next LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.

  6. weaselpuppy - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    This is pretty much expected after coming off an awesomely terrible draft full of boys who can’t compete against grown ass men.

    The skill level of the league is terrible…it’s hard to watch. Anything that improves the quality of play is a good idea.

    • dinofrank60 - Feb 8, 2014 at 6:16 PM

      There are people who would argue with you that the league is better than ever and that the the skill level is at an all time high. They would accuse you that you are being tied and limited to the past and that you need to open your mind to the present; they don’t want you to miss out because of your views.

      But the NBA ain’t pickup, it is a grown man’s league.

  7. stash918 - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    It’s a good idea to raise the age by 1 year to at least “2 and done.” It would still be more permissive than college football, which is “3 and done.” One and done is killing college basketball and it’s not doing a thing to help the NBA. All of the great freshman and gonna get to the NBA anyway– and as better players more physically and psychologically ready to play at an NBA level, earn a living and compete with other men, not boys.

  8. hawaiiowan - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    The responsibility is ultimately on the OWNERS. Don’t blame the scouts for suggesting a hot talent out of high school…if you don’t want to draft him, don’t draft him. I agree with @metalhead65 about the D-League…USE IT!

    What continues to get ignored about these nonsensical decisions to raise the age limit is that it’s consequently damaging the college game and structure. If a high school graduate who’s talented with computers gets offered a programming job by a computer company, there isn’t an arbitrary law saying the kid as to go to school for a year so he meets an age requirement. The NBA is an employer, and if they’re going to take the calculated risk and offer the job to an 18-year old, that’s on them.

    I’ll further unload on my blog because this has been a topic that has me boiling.

  9. shawnreese - Feb 8, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    the NCAA is probably in on it

  10. mungman69 - Feb 8, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    Let’s see. When you are 18 you can join the service and die in some war. You can’t play in the NBA. That’s age discrimination, isn’t it?

  11. redbearwoodall - Feb 8, 2014 at 4:41 PM


  12. ericpone - Feb 8, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    The answer is simple a state with a team could simply raise the age limit to 21 to sign a professional contract and require a professional license as well. The US government could do the same thing. That being said both entities could also allow the Players Association to represent both college and high school seniors as well to protect the interests of future workforce and to force colleges to compensate correctly.

  13. sdelmonte - Feb 8, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    The sooner we can end using colleges as a minor league, the better. The one and done guys aren’t there to get educations. They should be allowed to pursue careers instead. Period.

  14. mungman69 - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    If a company turned me down for a job because I wasn’t 19 or 20 I could and would sue because of age discrimination. These young players have every right to make a living. Someone must have paid off the Supreme Court.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      You don’t understand how labor law handles collectively-bargained agreements, do you?

  15. bruiserbrigade - Feb 8, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    All this really does is benefit the NCAA slave trade. Billions in TV deals, while the student athlete eats Ramen. I hope the Players Union doesn’t budge on this.

  16. eugenesaxe1 - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Let teams draft anyone over 18, but you play in the D-League/Europe until you’re 20. Players get paid, more scholarships for the kids who give a poop about their education.

  17. campcouch - Feb 9, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    How can employees dictate the hiring age? If the NBA says you can’t play until 20,then so be it. Maybe the college athletes will take economics or business instead of humanities,communications and African-American studies to prepare for their new windfall.

  18. 00maltliquor - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:43 AM

    I’m going to hate Silver more then I hated Stern, I already know it….

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