Why the NBA and NBPA are reportedly at odds over one-and-done rule changes

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Adam Silver and the NBA want players and their agents to give teams more information in the pre-draft process. (Getty)
Adam Silver and the NBA want players and their agents to give teams more information in the pre-draft process. (Getty)

The NBA and its players association are in agreement that the one-and-done rule needs to change. But according to a report Saturday from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the two parties disagree on exactly how the rule change should be implemented.

Or, rather, they are hung up on a few tangential details. The framework for the change seems to be in place, with 2022 as the reported target date. But two logistical specifications, according to Wojnarowski, have the talks at an “impasse.”

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Both concern the amount of information available to NBA teams during the pre-draft process. And there are reasonable arguments to be made on both sides.

NBA teams want medical information on players

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, with the backing of the 30 franchises he governs, wants to introduce a requirement that players, via their agents, release medical information to all 30 teams during the draft process.

Under the current CBA, the release of medical information is subject to the desires of players and their agents. Players may submit themselves to a league-administered physical at the NBA draft combine, making the results available to all 30 teams. Or they can distribute records selectively, granting information to some teams and not others. Or they can withhold them altogether.

Why the NBPA is pushing back

That power allows agents to guard any information that may hurt a player’s draft stock, but also allows them to dissuade certain teams from drafting their clients, if they have identified that team as an unfavorable landing spot.

Thus, per Wojnarowski, the NBPA has “felt significant pressure from the agent community to resist the NBA’s push on ceding control of medical information.” The ability to withhold it is seen as one of the relatively few ways players maintain self-determining power as they enter the league.

One NBA agent explained the reasoning to Woj:

“Some organizations are run better than others. A lot of success comes from a player getting into the right situation at the right time. If I can do something that influences that, why would I give that up?

 

“I understand why the league wants this. I get that it’s not fair across the board to teams, but I don’t work for the teams. I work for the players. When it’s all said and done, and my player doesn’t have as good of a career as he could’ve had, because, in part, of the coaching, the environment, the kinds of teammates that surrounded him, will the NBA put a contribution together to help him? No, they’re moving on. I’m not trying to embarrass any teams, but I’m going to do everything I can to give my players every chance for success.”

NBA teams also want to make combine workouts mandatory

On the other hand, in the event of a rule change to lower the league’s age limit, NBA team executives are concerned that they will have even less information on 18-year-olds who don’t have a year of college ball under their belt.

That – coupled with the significant investments they make in these players without comprehensive profiles – is behind the NBA’s other preferred rule change as well.

NBA teams want to make some sort of pre-draft workout mandatory. But according to Wojnarowski, there’s more wiggle room here:

Privately, the NBA and NBPA say there’s far more room to negotiate on attendance and participation at the draft combine. For example, the league isn’t seeking a hardline where potential lottery picks must participate in 5-on-5 games, but it would like to find ways for everyone to take part in interview sessions with front offices, measurements, athletic testing and media availabilities, sources said.

What will the resolution be?

At the heart of the matter is that the NBPA, more so than the NBA, wants to change the age limit. The NBA and its teams are essentially using that desire as a bargaining chip to push through a separate rule change, one they’ve wanted to implement for years.

And it’s unclear if they’ll get their way. But it’s likely some sort of compromise will eventually be reached, and the age limit will be lowered in 2022.

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Henry Bushnell is a features writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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