Adam Silver is rethinking his stance on the NBA's one-and-done rule

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is softening his stance on the league’s draft age restrictions. (AP)

Six months after NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players’ Association executive director Michele Roberts tabled the topic during the latest collective bargaining agreement negotiations, Silver is softening the league’s stance on the much-debated one-and-done rule.

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“I’m rethinking our position,” Silver told Colin Cowherd on Wednesday’s episode of “The Herd” on FS1.


Since former commissioner David Stern successively negotiated an increase in the NBA’s draft age limit from 18 to 19 years old in 2005, the league has pushed for another increase from 19 to 20. The players’ association, meanwhile, has held firm on the idea of reverting back to the 18-year-old limit.

The two entities set their differences aside in the new CBA, which was agreed to in December and signed in January. The seven-year deal takes effect in July and will run through the 2023-24 season.

However, that does not mean the NBA and NBPA cannot reopen negotiations on the one-and-done rule, which has led to an increase from just two college basketball players who declared for the draft after their freshman season in the first go-round (2006) to 20 a decade later, according to Silver.

“In the last round of collective bargaining, Michele Roberts and I both agreed, let’s get through these core economic issues in terms of renewing the collective bargaining agreement, and then turn back to this age issue,” Silver told Cowherd, “because it’s one I think we need to be more thoughtful on and not just be in an adversarial position sort of under the bright lights of collective bargaining.”

Silver cited the minuscule percentage of college players affected by the current draft limit — roughly one-tenth of a percent of the available pool, excluding international players — while also raising concerns about those players dropping out of school immediately after their final games as freshmen.

It’s a half-and-done, in a way,” he said.

Silver did not elaborate on what a new stance might look like, just that college coaches and athletic directors should have input on the matter, and the 20-year-old age limit may not be the solution. And the two issues he raised about the current CBA left little indication about which way he was leaning.

“I think we’ve got to rethink it,” Silver added.

Cowherd began his discussion with the commissioner arguing the NBA’s D-League should adopt rules similar to EuroLeague basketball, which has featured players as young as 15. Case in point: Luka Doncic, the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, debuted for Real Madrid at age 16.

Silver did not dismiss the idea. Using the D-League, soon to be called the Gatorade League, as a feeder system is often mentioned in this discussion, which would require significant negotiating in regard to player salaries. The main contention most people have with the 19-year-old age limit is its restriction on the basic capitalistic principle that people should be able to make what they can earn.

The NBA and NBPA, as private entities, can create whatever age restrictions they please, and the league would argue the quality of its product increases with age. Not because a LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett can’t contribute as a teen, but more to prevent general managers who can’t help themselves from investing too early and often in Kwame Brown, Jonathan Bender or Robert Swift. The players’ association, conversely, cites the loss of potential earnings in increasing the draft age.

Another idea that’s made headway around the league is a system similar to Major League Baseball, where players drafted out of high school have the option of signing with a team or attending college. If they choose the latter option, they cannot become draft-eligible again for another three years.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!