With LeBron James and Barack Obama both broaching the subject last week amid the pay-for-play college basketball scandal, it was only a matter of time before momentum swung toward an NBA-led alternative, especially since commissioner Adam Silver has broached the subject in recent years.
As it turns out, momentum was already building before James and Obama floated the idea.
The NBA is preparing to go into business with high school graduates again, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The reported plan, at least in its infant stages, would allow 18-year-olds to enter the draft or join the G League on a livable wage. The NBA would also establish contact points with players even earlier in their prep careers, but would not go so far as establishing a EuroLeague-style farm system.
“We are looking at changing the relationship we have with players before they reach the NBA,” an anonymously sourced high-ranking league official told ESPN. “This is a complex challenge, and there’s still a lot of discussion about how it’s going to happen, but we all see the need to step in.”
Silver could unveil a new plan as soon as this summer, after the Commission on College Basketball concludes its investigation into the NCAA corruption scandal, according to the ESPN report. The commission, chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is tasked with recommending sweeping reform to fix a broken college basketball system. Whether that includes paying student athletes, a notion NCAA president Mark Emmert has staunchly opposed, could impact the NBA’s plan.
In the 2005 collective bargaining agreement, the NBA abolished a rule that allowed prep prospects to jump straight to the league, restricting the draft-eligible age to 19 or one year removed from high school graduation. This essentially created the one-and-done phenomenon that plagues the NCAA.
Recently, Silver has been more open about the league’s intent to end the one-and-done rule, but the league set aside that discussion during the latest round of collective bargaining with the players’ union. This isn’t a quick fix, not when the NBA has bigger plans than just going back to the old system.