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Things have changed for 18-year-old elite basketball players. There are many more options and ways to get paid — NIL at a traditional college, G-League Ignite, Overtime Elite — while they wait the required year to enter the NBA Draft.
In a few years they may not have to wait — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reiterated he favors dropping the NBA age limit to 18 and it will be part of the just-started discussions of a new CBA.
“I think, though, at this point, that as we sit down in our collective bargaining cycle, it will clearly be on the table,” Silver said in Las Vegas about reducing the age limit to 18. “I haven’t had the conversations directly with [players union executive director] Tamika Tremaglio or the union to know exactly where they stand on it and what other issues may become part of that discussion.”
Not all players support reducing the age limit — it just brings more competition for the 450 NBA jobs — and not every NBA team loves the idea. Even with Silver’s backing, it may not have the support to become reality. However, NBA teams are far better at player development now than they were previously when players were going straight from high school to the NBA. The people who most support it — high school players in the NBA pipeline — don’t have a seat at the bargaining table.
Silver added that regardless of the age limit, the NBA needs to do more to invest in and grow youth basketball. However, he sees reducing the age limit as the right thing.
“I’m on record — when I balance all of these various considerations, I think [reducing the age limit] would be the right thing to do,” Silver said. “I am hopeful that that’s a change we make in this next collective bargaining cycle, which will happen in the next couple years.”
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