Discussions between the National Basketball Association and National Basketball Players Association to lower the minimum age to enter the NBA Draft are no longer part of the league’s labor talks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday.
This will allow college basketball’s “one-and-done” era to continue into the foreseeable future; that is, players can leave high school for a pre-draft year in the league’s development system, which offers six-figure salaries and endorsement opportunities, per Woj.
“The rise of significant financial opportunities for players before joining the NBA — including name, image and likeness rights in NCAA basketball and actual contracted pay with the G League Ignite and Overtime Elite programs — has softened the NBPA’s belief there needed to be an aggressive push for lowering the draft,” Wojnarowski wrote on Friday.
As of now, 18-year-old players will not be allowed to jump to the NBA out of high school, which had been part of ongoing talks on a new collective agreement, and must be 19 to enter the league.
“We recognize that we really do need to make sure that we have the structure in place, if we’re going to have people join the league at the age of 18,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said during the All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City.
“We also appreciate that there is a lot of benefit to really having veterans who can bring those 18-year-olds along. And so, certainly anything that we would even consider, to be quite honest, would have to include a component that would allow veterans to be a part of it as well.”
The deadline is Friday for the NBA and NBPA to avoid a league opt-out of the final year of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2023-24. Negotiations continue with the hope to reach a long-term deal and avoid a possible labor stoppage in July.
18-year-old players were allowed to enter the NBA Draft up until 2005, when the minimum age was raised to 19. Several superstars had Hall-of-Fame careers while entering the league before their 19th birthday, including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett.