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NBA, NBPA expected to conform to end ‘one-and-done rule,’ change draft age to 18 in next CBA: Sources

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The NBA and NBA Players Association are expected to agree on moving the age eligibility for the NBA Draft from 19 to 18, clearing the way in which for the return of highschool players making the NBA leap, per sources with knowledge of the discussions. The reduced age limit for top school-to-NBA jumps would go into effect as early because the 2024 NBA Draft.

Commissioner Adam Silver said in July that he was “hopeful” for the rule changing in the following collective bargaining agreement cycle, and each side appear motivated to scale back the age eligibility for the draft.

The NBA set the draft age limit at 19 years old in 2005. Team owners and front-office executives couldn’t help themselves from investing high draft picks and tens of thousands and thousands of dollars in teenagers straight out of highschool. There have been a bunch of success stories: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James and Dwight Howard can attest to that, amongst many others.

Nevertheless, not everybody coming out of highschool was nearly as good as those players, and a few were busts within the NBA. So the league’s solution was to make them wait yet one more yr before reaching the NBA and earning thousands and thousands of dollars, sparking the term “the one-and-done rule.”

Since 2005, the sports landscape has undergone dramatic changes and opened up more doors for 18-year-olds to earn a living before they reach the NBA. The largest change got here in June 2021 when the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that the NCAA couldn’t limit education-related payments to student-athletes and that college players will be compensated through name, image and likeness deals. Players may forgo college and earn a living by joining the G League or playing overseas.

With a Dec. 15 mutual opt-out date looming for the NBA and the Players Association under their current CBA, each side are within the midst of significant conversations over key points that may make up the league’s recent CBA. Top officials from the NBA and NBPA will hold their next in-person meeting at the top of this month, sources told The Athletic, a session that may set the stage for the ultimate consequence.

For more on where the NBA and NBPA stand in CBA talks, read Shams Charania’s interview with NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio here.

(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)

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