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Adam Silver says after owners’ meeting raising age limit top priority

Apr 19, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT

Adam Silver Adam Silver

It’s been pretty clear for a while that raising the age limit from the current 19 to 20 has been one of Adam’s Silvers’ top priorities.

Now he has the backing of the owners to really go push for it.

That’s what he said after exiting two days of owners meetings, the first he conducted wearing the commissioner hat after taking over for David Stern on Feb. 1. Silver went so far as to bring in NCAA president Mark Emmert to talk to the owners and discuss what needs to be done to get the age limit up to 20, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“If we’re going to be successful in raising the age from 19 to 20, part and parcel in those negotiations goes to the treatment of players on those college campuses and closing the gap between what their scholarships cover and their expenses,” Silver said. “We haven’t looked specifically at creating a financial incentive for them to stay in college. That’s been an option that has been raised over the years, but that’s not something that is on the table right now.”

It’s going to take more than just that — this is a negotiation with the NBA players union, which is still in the process of picking an executive director (it hopes to have a new permanent one by the start of this coming season, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is leading the search). The players are going to want concessions to let the owners have their way.

One thing reportedly to be put on the table is to dramatically up the pay in the D-League, where the current max salary tops out at $28,000 a season. There is no age limit in the D-League, so with higher pay it could become an alternative to college for high school players who want to earn money fast or just aren’t cut out for a couple years (at least) of college life.

That’s nice. The players will want more than that. They are not going to be bought off with trinkets.

Putting aside for a moment the divisive argument about whether the NBA should raise the age limit (I personally think it should be 18), if the owners really want this then they will be willing to compromise in other areas to get it. If not, they don’t want it that badly. Again, it’s a negotiation.

One that will get more serious this fall once the players union picks an executive director.

In other news, the owners decided to look more closely at ways to tweak the NBA draft lottery process. There are real concerns about a system that incentivizes losing to get high draft picks, as was seen this season around the league in situations (although no more this year than years past, it just got a lot more attention this time around). There are no simple answers here and Silver said there was no consensus on how to move forward, Windhorst reports.

The same is true of ways to tweak the playoff system to balance out uneven conferences. There has been some talk about doing away with conference designations for the postseason — for example this year the Spurs, with the NBA’s best record, would face the Hawks from the East instead of Dallas from the West — but with unbalanced schedules (teams play the other teams

  1. cmehustle - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    I hate the lottery process. If they put that in the NFL fans would go bananas. As for the age limit thing, I think baseball does it the best. If you think you dont need college then go for it. The truth is you can always go back to college, although you wont be able to participate in sports if your a prior pro. But if you go to school you have to stay for three years. I think a team even maintains your rights if they pick you, which might be a little wierd in the NBA. Im all for making college ball more interesting, which if you could imagine Kentucky with a few of there one and done or two and done players still there would be phenomenal.

  2. brianscalabrine - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Just decide to stop writing the article, basically?

    College b-ball would be even better if they extended this to 21 years old. Could create some epic 3-year rivalries, possibilities of real 3-peats (though this would be extremely rare if not ever occur), quality of play would increase even more, and we can find out more about players. I know a lot more about Dough McDermott than I do Wiggins, Embiid, etc.. But the 20 y/o limit is solid as well. Silver’s done/said a lot of good things since he’s been commish.

    • brianscalabrine - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Doug* – and I know he’s a 4-year player, but still. Knew he was this good his Jr year.

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      I’m thinking that it’s not an age issue as much as it is a style of play (or lack of fundamentals issue). Think about it: Doug McDermott has a traditional style of play with very solid fundamentals. Wiggins, Embiid, Parker, etc. all have ok fundamentals but depend highly on their athletic abilities. Here’s another argument that’s been popular of late: Are these “one and done” players going to build their talent better at the NBA level (playing against the best of the world with top of the line facilities) or against college players and probably out of their natural playing position? Forcing players into college is not the answer. I said below, if we want to raise the age limit to 20 or 21, have the D-league be an option. At least in the D-league, they’ll be playing a pro-style game, against better competition, all while getting paid for their services.

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      My last argument: it’s all about money. If the answer is to force players to go to college, and if the colleges do not want to pay their “student athletes” some kind of a salary, allow them to make money on the side. If Johny Football can make $15,000 on signing some junk, allow that to be permissible.

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        If Johnny Football wanted to work at Arby’s during college and Arby’s wanted to pay him $8.50 instead of minimum wage because he’d bring in tons of business, the NCAA wouldn’t allow it.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        Right. Which is dumb.

      • cmehustle - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        Dude, I dont really feel sorry for someone who went to college for free and is now about to make millions. That said I do agree. I dont think forcing them to stay in school is right. However if your not good enough to go straight into the NBA, which about 90 percent of these guys arent, they should have to stay in for two or three years.

  3. adslubec - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    The NBA is a joke. The college game is much more fun to watch. You could not pay me enough to watch the NBA .

    • thewalkoffktxt - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Then kindly move thyself to the “COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS AWESOME, I HATE THE NBA” section of the internet. Thank you for (your attempt at) trolling.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      Beat it!

      • jimeejohnson - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        Take that loser CantonBound with you.

  4. urallstupid - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    can go fight for your country at 18 but can’t play in the NBA. lol!

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      This is my problem with it. Also, the whole college/NCAA system of not having to pay college athletes while making billions is suspect to me. If they offered a D-league option, I wouldn’t mind it as much because at least the players get paid in the D-league. I don’t think forcing kids to go to college while not being able to earn a living is the answer, but, unfortunately it’s a money making monster. (look at that alliteration!)

    • cmehustle - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      Or the NFL. Or drink. Or rent a car. Or gamble. But yes you can go sign up for the military at 18. Or 19, 20, 21, or even 22 like I did. But you wont get paid millions, trust me.

  5. bigsuede - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    I really hope that the NBA does whatever they can to make the age limit 21. It makes sense for regular players to support this as it will let more veterans stay in the game longer (and this matters- the scrubs of the NBA have more clout than the top performers- that is why there are salary ceilings on Lebron James and other top guys- the average player likes it better that way)

    I was watching the 30 for 30 on the detroit pistons- and it shocked me that Isiah Thomas came out averaging 30 points a game for his first games… When was the last time a rookie legitly made the all star game as a starter??

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      2003 with LeBron, Wade, Carmelo, and Bosh. All were either “one and done’s” or came from high school. There was also Garnet and Chocolate Thunder…both straight from high school guys, too.

      • bigsuede - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        I know- all of them SUCKED their first year or two. Why should I pay money to watch someone learning the game?? What is fun about watching a Kobe bryant air ball in the playoffs? Garnett was a bench scrub. It isnt fun to watch and almost all those teams had no benefit to getting these players as almost none of them made the playoffs their rookie seasons.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Garnett started 43 games and averaged almost 30 MPG his rookie year… hardly a bench scrub.

      • bigsuede - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:01 PM

        Asi- where are you getting this??? Garnett barely averaged 10 pts a game and the team was HORRIBLE. Look up timberwolves 1995.

    • adamsjohn714 - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      hahahahahhaha you seem to think the NBA players union supports caps on their salaries. The CBA is the way it is because the owners have all the power. It’s best to keep quiet and seem stupid than to speak up and remove all doubt.

      • jimeejohnson - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        Plenty of useful idiots for the rich.

      • bigsuede - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:59 PM

        It was the NBAPA that caps individual player salaries. The owners would be ok with no cap on individual players- it would allow every team to be able to buy a superstar. But what would happen in that is Lebron would make 60 million and all the other players would be at a minimum.

        The average player doesnt like that idea.

      • 6thsense10 - Apr 20, 2014 at 11:04 AM


        Did you just start following the NBA. The owners were the ones who insisted on capping the max value of a player’s contract after years of escalating player contracts. When Kevin Garnett signed his $126 million contract(ridiculously huge at the time) that was the tipping point. You reveal your lack of knowledge with your posts.

  6. thewalkoffktxt - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    The worst team gets the 1st pick in the NFL. Is that truly the way to go? It’d be a tank-a-palooza to already plague the reputation of a league that gets enough antagonism for being, well, the NBA.

  7. socalcharger - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Raise the age limit and start paying d-league players more. The money can come from the NBA. No more whining about slaving for free tuition, if a player doesn’t value the college experience, go to the d-league to play in front of empty crowds. College doesn’t need players who just want to get paid. March madness will still be amazing.

  8. madnova - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    bigsuede- They sucked? Anthony and Wade led their teams to the playoffs as rookies. Anthony became the first rookie to lead a team in playoff scoring since David Robinson. Cleveland won 18 more games. Toronto won 9 more games, Miami won 17 more games, and Denver won 26 more games. But yeah, no real benefit to getting these players at all.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      Haters gonna spout bullcrap, like peabrain CantonBound.

  9. peopletrains - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:43 PM


    Get your facts straight. Wade wasn’t one and done at Marquette. He was there for three years (sat out one year).

  10. mungman69 - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Age discrimination plain and simple.

  11. mindblather - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    If you install a minimum-age restriction to players entering the league, 1 to 3 years will be knocked off their NBA careers. That effectively means no more players catching / beating all-time records; the records effectively become written in stone. That to me is a big minus because it is exciting to watch a player make history breaking a record.

  12. mungman69 - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    Yes, if you are 18 you can go die in some war BUT YOU CAN’T PLAY IN THE NBA?

  13. critter69 - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Maybe, if the NBA wants to go to a 20 YO minimum, the NBA should furnish funds to the NCAA to restart Freshman teams. And limit the Freshman teams to X number of games (20?), with NO post-season tournament, and the schedule different than the varsity schedule.

    Then the NBA should institute a rule that ONLY players who played varsity basketball (or played in the CBA) cane play in the NBA (with accommodation for genuine foreign players – no US citizens playing two years in Europe to get around the NBA rules).

    When schools had them, not very many people attended Freshman team games, few scouts attended, etc. If a player wanted to get any attention, they played a year or two on the varsity (as a Sophomore or Soph/Jr.). After all, almost all the one and done players go to college for the attention they get from the NBA scouts. Force them to play Freshman team games, the scouts will still only go to the varsity games, so the only real method for the players to be seen by the NBA scouts is playing for the varsity team (as a Sophomore or Soph/Jr.).

    • adamsjohn714 - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      Why would the NBA pay the NCAA anything? That’s bad business. They should just pay players in the D-League more, making it a viable option for the fresh out of high school kids. People already pay a lot of money to watch the best 18-19 year olds play basketball against eachother. What difference would it make what team they’re on? In this example, the NBA snatches up all the good young talent, while preserving their silly age limit, and takes a big slice of the NCAA basketball billion dollar pie at the same time.

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