Now, though, there is turbulence, as the underbelly in the youth and college basketball systems is being exposed. The NBA has watched it unfold. Seeing both a responsibility as the world’s leading basketball league and an opportunity to move in on valuable territory, the league is preparing to get involved again with elite high school basketball players, multiple sources told ESPN. Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver and several of his top advisers have been engaged in listening tours and information-gathering missions with an array of stakeholders for months. That has included formal meetings with the National Basketball Players Association about adjusting the so-called “one-and-done” age-limit rule. But Silver’s aim is much more comprehensive than simply re-opening the door for 18-year-olds to play in the NBA, sources said.
A plan is expected to include the NBA starting relationships with elite teenagers while they are in high school, providing skills to help them develop both on and off the court. It would ultimately open an alternate path to the NBA besides playing in college and a way 18-year-olds could earn a meaningful salary either from NBA teams or as part of an enhanced option in the developmental G League, sources said.
"We're spending a lot of time on [youth basketball]. I think there is a big opportunity, on a global basis, focus on elite players in terms of better training, better fitness, so that they ultimately can be successful at the highest level," Silver said during All-Star Weekend. "That is something from a league standpoint, together with our teams, we're putting an enormous amount of energy and resources into." Within the past year, league officials began canvassing teams on their ideas and interest in the NBA creating academies that would house and train dozens of the country's elite high school basketball players, sources said. This academy concept has been floated for years, notably by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
"We realize that the whole issue of the one-and-done is that we don't operate in isolation, and where we choose to set with our players' association, the minimum age has a direct impact on college basketball as well," Silver said. "We're not by any means rushing through this. I think this is a case where, actually, outside of the cycle of collective bargaining, we can spend more time on it with the players' association, talking to the individual players, talking to the executive board and really trying to understand the pros and cons of potentially moving the age limit."
Ten years ago, then-prep basketball phenom Brandon Jennings decided not to take the one-and-done college route to Arizona and instead opted to play professionally in Italy for a year with a lucrative shoe contract in hand. Looking back, the eight-year NBA veteran who most recently played in China has no regrets about his move. And with the FBI now cracking down on college stars receiving extra benefits without getting paid by the NCAA, the current G League Wisconsin Herd guard believes that elite high school stars should consider playing in the G League or overseas instead of taking the one-and-done route in the “billion-dollar business” of the NCAA. “My decision was for me,” Jennings said. “I always feel bad for the kids because I always felt like the kids should get paid in college, at least something. The NCAA is a billion-dollar business. You’re telling a kid like [Oklahoma’s] Trae Young, who is killing it and you’re telling me alumni or someone else can’t take him out to a nice dinner?"
Vincent Ellis: Stan Van Gundy dropped this gem on the one-and-done rule: “People that were against (players) coming out (of high school) made a lot of excuses, but I think a lot of it was racist. I’ve never heard anybody go up in arms about (minor-league baseball or hockey)."
Vincent Ellis: Stan Van Gundy on the college basketball scandal: “The NCAA is one of the worst organizations – maybe the worst organization – in sports. They certainly don’t care about the athlete.” #Pistons.
One issue is, of course, the one-and-done rule, where ballers play one year of college because NBA eligibility requires them to be one year removed from high school. Warriors forward Kevin Durant, for one, thinks the rule should be done away with. “You want these players to go out there and play on the biggest stage," he said in a video captured by The Athletic's Anthony Slater. "The Final Four is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, in sports, and they don’t get a dime for it. I don’t think it’s right. They go out there. They slave for these programs. To go out there and win a championship. These fans go to the game to see these players. Just like the NBA, they want to see the best players.”
August 17, 2022 | 8:47 pm EDT Update
Tommy Beer: Stephen A Smith on SiriumXM w/ @Rick Kamla this afternoon when asked about potential Mitchell deal: “Utah didn’t want Julius Randle, from what I’m told. They don’t want him. The Knicks were willing to unload him. They want RJ Barrett. They want at least 6 1st-round picks.” pic.twitter.com/9Nn7DuwlZe
I knew if we could win Game 3 and go to 3-0, it was pretty much a wrap on the series. It was just a matter of whether [the series would be won] in Game 4 or a “gentleman’s sweep” in Game 5. Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, we got a stop, and I was just talking to myself: “Put ‘em to sleep. Put ‘em to sleep.” That was the conversation I was having with myself. Not with anyone else on the team or anyone else in the arena. Then, I had finished that layup underneath Jokic, and that was the thought that came out – just to do the sign. I didn’t say, “Night Night” at the time. I was just telling myself, “Put ‘em to sleep.” Fast forward to Game 5, when I made the last layup to go up five with 19 seconds left. That was the official, “Put them to sleep.” The camera didn’t get me on that one, but I actually said it. Fast forward to Memphis, Dallas and then Boston, and it kind of took on a life of its own.
NDP: How did it feel to break it out again in Boston and seal the Finals win? SC: It felt the best. The way that game went, it was an emotional rollercoaster. They came out just hitting every shot, and they were up double digits in the first four minutes. We slowly just crept back and then went on that 21-nothing run. When we came out in the third quarter, everyone was feeling it. Let’s just step on their throats, right now.
NDP: What’s it been like seeing athletes from sports all around the world doing the celebration? SC: It’s the best, ’cause some are taking it to new extremes that I would never feel comfortable doing in the league. But it’s dope to know how far the reach is. I’ve told people before, “I know there’s people that did the symbol before me.” But to know that you cemented a moment that’s on the biggest of stages, and people are inspired by it and want to have fun with whatever they’re doing with it — they’ve taken their own spin on it and have had some creativity with it.
August 17, 2022 | 7:21 pm EDT Update
CJ Holmes: Here’s all four of the Warriors’ long road trips this season: Oct. 29 – Nov 4: Charlotte, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans Dec. 13 – 27: Milwaukee, Indiana, Philadelphia, Toronto, New York, Brooklyn Jan 13 – 20: San Antonio, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Cleveland
Jason Dumas: Looks like a local artist in the LA area has painted a mural of JTA in Inglewood. It’ll be unveiled to the public tomorrow. I realized how impactful Juan was at the first Mexican-American to win an NBA Finals during the Warriors parade. Cool stuff. pic.twitter.com/rTPdj8Op4c
August 17, 2022 | 5:43 pm EDT Update
Marc Stein: The NBA’s new schedule has 55 baseball-style series in which the road team plays the same foe twice in a row without travel … up from 23 last season. Plus 33 instances on the schedule in which the road team stays in LA or New York to play both local teams on the same trip.