NBA rumors: NBA drafting high school players in 2022?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has made clear he thinks the controversial one-and-done rule is no longer good policy, and he said Thursday at an event in Washington that the 2022 draft likely will allow the best high school players to jump straight into the NBA rather than playing a single season of college before turning pro.

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“There are a bunch of issues that need to be worked through between us and the players association, so it’s something we’re in active discussions about,” Silver said. “It’s a few years away, I think.” The matter has to be collectively bargained, and Silver said implementing the rule sooner than 2022 wouldn’t be fair to teams that have made trades involving draft picks nor would it give the league enough time to work with players who would be entering the league at a young age.
The NBA has reached an agreement with USA Basketball that allows front-office personnel to scout the under-16 national camps, ESPN reported last month. Silver said support for ending the one-and-done rule is not universal among NBA owners, and he said perhaps just half the teams are eager to open the doors to high school players.
Discussions between the NBA and the Players Association to end the one-and-done era and lower the league's minimum age to 18 have resumed in recent weeks, infused with urgency as the clock ticks on the league's preferred target date of the 2022 NBA draft, league sources told ESPN.
At his pregame press conference Saturday at Capital One Arena, Krzyzewski said it’s too soon to be certain players like Williamson and Barrett, a pair of first-team All-Americans this year, would have automatically gone straight to the NBA out of high school. “I don’t think that it’s a done deal that everyone will do that because a big thing about going to the NBA is staying in the NBA and trying to be prepared once you go in there, not just physically but emotionally,” the Hall of Fame coach said.
Mike Krzyzewski: “I applaud and I’m glad the kids will be given the opportunity to make a decision. Am I ready to do that? The other thing, I would hope that the powers to be — that the NBA will be well-prepared. The NCAA is not prepared right now. They need to be in concert with the NBA in developing a plan that is specific for men’s college basketball. We should already have a plan and I think what you do is, the NBA has a plan, then we have a plan and you say, well, do they mesh? OK. Oh, that’s pretty good, your plan. In other words, we work a little bit better than our government, where we don’t just sit on both sides of the aisle.”
DeShawn Stevenson: “They should let people come out [of high school]. Because of injuries, basketball is not promised. You look at a guy like Zion [Williamson] tearing his sneaker, he could’ve torn up his knee and then he can never jump the same again. I feel like you [need to give prospects] an opportunity to make that money, an opportunity to take care of their family. Isn’t that the goal? It just don’t make sense; if you have it, you have it! You can’t hold those people back… Also, when you get to an NBA team, they shelter you _so_ much. I know that’s how it was when I got there. They have so many people who are around you all day [to help you]. It just makes sense for a high school kid to come out [and go straight to the NBA]. When you go to college, you could get hurt and then all of that money is off the table.”
Silver confirmed that the NBA has presented a proposal to the National Basketball Players Association that would allow high school players into the 2022 draft. As the NBPA continues to weigh the proposal, pre-draft access to the players’ medical information remains a hang-up. “It’s the league’s position that if teams are drafting players directly out of high school, having that medical information becomes that much more important,” he said. “I’m confident we will ultimately get something done and reach a fair resolution.”
Pitt coach Jeff Capel can comment on this case with more credence than the average talking head, considering he recruited, came to care for and would’ve coached Williamson in his only season at Duke, if not for Capel taking over the Panthers. “I think the guys should be able to go straight from high school,” Capel said after his team’s practice Monday afternoon. “That’s not an NCAA rule, that’s an NBA rule, but I think they should have the opportunity.”
“I don't like the way the rule is now, that you have to go, but at the same time, I think these kids do have opportunities where they can go overseas, they can go to the G-League,” Capel said of NBA alternatives. “I don't think it’s smart for them to do that, necessarily, especially a guy like Zion or a guy like R.J. Barrett. Because the attention they get going to Duke, they do get something out of it. It’s not total exploitation.”
Development was a major topic of conversation with the executives I talked to. Various executives wondered how the NBA might intervene early to help promote positive habits in players. The AAU system has improved drastically this century, and perhaps more funding thanks to heightened interest could help it even more. USA Basketball is integrating players into its system at younger and younger ages, and shoe money is trickling down to the high school level, all of which helps players mature more quickly on the court. As for the NBA’s plan, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported last year that the league is designing ways to educate youth players on training methods, nutrition, and life skills using camps and tournaments. The league also explored the possibility of creating academies similar to the ones used overseas, but that received no traction. A sports agency could do it, though. Various executives I spoke with said they wouldn’t be surprised to see an agency start an academy for young players and provide professional-level training.
Some executives actually expressed concerns about how teams will interact with high schoolers. Teams make promises to draft players as is—the Bulls did that with Chandler Hutchinson last year, and he immediately shut down his workouts. How will it manifest in high school? Would a high school senior stop playing if a team promises to draft him? And how can the NBA possibly police interactions between teams and players spread out among thousands of high schools, or teams and the advisers of those players? As of now, teams generally deal with the same college personnel each year to scout the NCAA. Adding high schoolers from all around the country introduces a whole new set of unknowns. Some NBA executives would prefer a system that requires a player to spend three years in college, like in the NFL, so that players enter the league more seasoned. That isn’t happening, though.
Some executives question why there would be different standards for medical information for high schoolers entering the league than for current NBA players. When a free agent signs, he must pass a physical exam. When trades are made, teams are required to exchange all medical info that relates to the player’s playing ability. Draft entrants aren’t technically part of the players’ union, but this process is standard in other professional sports leagues. The draft is an inexact science as is, and high schoolers have even more question marks. There is less reliable information—whether it’s a player’s statistics or intel from coaches.
Cuban offered advice to the next Williamson-caliber player who comes along, especially if it happens before the minimum draft age is lowered to 18. "The next kid in a similar circumstance, go to the G-League, or Europe," he said. "If you want the international adventure and the exposure to a different type of basketball and different skill sets, go to Europe. If that's not your thing and you're not in-tuned to it for whatever reason, and you've got a big social media following like Zion Williamson? Go G-League."
Cuban over the years has expressed concern about the life skills that even some one-and-done players have lacked when coming into the NBA after barely attending college before turning professional. "Got here, didn't know how to write a check, didn't know how to sign a lease," Cuban said Friday. "Just needed somebody basically to hold their hand and it made things difficult for them. It's hard to focus on your profession when you don't even know how to focus on the everyday skills that are required for life."
John Calipari said the NBA's new proposal to lower the age limit for the NBA draft to 18 will change college basketball for the better if it's adopted. USA Today reported Thursday that the NBA has formally proposed changing the draft-eligible age requirement from 19 to 18, and Calipari said he would be "ecstatic" if the change meant the players who did come to college stayed longer.
However, the Kentucky coach also said he opposes the "baseball rule" that would require players who choose college basketball to stay in school for two or three years. Players should have the right to leave when they're ready, he said, but those who do go to college and pass on the chance to leave after high school will likely stay for multiple seasons. "We should not go to a baseball rule," Calipari said Friday at his pregame news conference for Saturday's matchup against Auburn. "If a kid goes to college and after a year or two wants to go to the NBA and is good enough -- and he grew, he got bigger, he got more confidence -- let him go. Why would you now force a kid to go two years?”
If the NBA changes its rules and players like Williamson can turn pro after high school, Calipari said Kentucky will adjust. "If they're out of high school and they can go directly to the NBA and get drafted and get millions of dollars, I'm for it 100 percent," Calipari said. "Just let's not devalue education. Let's just not devalue it. Let's not make it solely about basketball. What we do and how we do it is important."
Marvin Williams turned pro in 2005 following a season at North Carolina that included a national championship. Right as that path felt for him, he says if a player feels ready to leap from high school to the NBA, he should have the option to work. But he cautions that word - “work” - is something a young player and his family need to strongly think about once that preps-to-pros opportunity resumes. “You’re 18 years old. Your body is not nearly as mature as it needs to be. Your mind, for that matter, is not nearly as mature as it needs to be,” Williams told the Observer Friday. “You’d go from probably living in your mom and dad’s house to living on your own clear across the country.”
Even so, Williams said some prodigies, Duke freshman Zion Williamson for example, should have the option to enter the NBA at 18 because of the life-changing opportunity being drafted high represents. “It’s a great chance for some kids out there to really change life for their families,” Williams said. “You never know what someone’s life situation is. If they really have the chance to change their family’s life” then that option shouldn’t automatically be deferred by the system.
The NBA has submitted to the National Basketball Players Association a formal proposal that will lower the draft-eligible age to 18 from 19, a person with knowledge of the proposal told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss discussions between the league and the union. The NBPA and its executive director, Michele Roberts, planned to review the proposal Monday at a post-All-Star weekend meeting in the Bahamas.
The league and union have had informal discussions about lowering the age limit, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver is on record saying the current 19-year-old age limit is not working for the league or college basketball. This is the first step in formal negotiations to lower the age limit by the 2022 draft. The issue is collectively bargained between the NBA and NBPA, and both sides need to agree to any rule change.
Roberts believes, though, even the promise of the money may not be enough to sway the best players to go that route. “You’ve seen some of these practice facilities and arenas these Division I players have access to, not bad. Not a bad life. The training, the coaches,” Roberts said. “The G League is making it a harder decision for kids to make, to have the option of going to a Division I school, but if I had to bet, I’d think kids would still go to a Division I school.”
And at the very least, it can provide a path for those who’d rather play in the states than go overseas for a year to play professionally, as was the case with Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay. “Everybody wants to stay at home. That’s natural instinct,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts told Yahoo Sports. “Going overseas is lonely. The G League, at least historically, has been a more profitable option … most of the time, guys are making more money, having access to family and friends.”
The Enquirer talked to University of Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin and Xavier University head coach Travis Steele to see what they think of the G-League offering contracts to college basketball's top prospects. “It should have never come in (the one-and-done)," said Cronin. "If a guy is 18 he can go off to war for his country, he should be able to play basketball. You can’t regulate bad decisions. There’s going to be bad decisions in all walks of life. We’re not regulating baseball players, hockey players, tennis players and golfers. Why are we regulating basketball players?”
"This is another step towards the one-and-done rule being eradicated, which I am sure will happen in the near future," said Steele. "A student-athlete should be able to enter the NBA Draft upon completion of high school just like any kid can go get a job after high school."
To hear John Calipari tell it, the G League's move to offer prospective one-and-done players $125,000 one-year contracts will be good for Kentucky. "If it's what they say, three or five guys and that's it, I don't think it affects us," Calipari said after Kentucky's Blue-White scrimmage Sunday. "As a matter of fact, probably makes us better. The kids that come here are kids that want the competition and want to get better. They're not going somewhere so that they only gotta shoot all the balls. (Those players) don't come here. I think this may even separate us some, so I'm not worried about it."
Calipari's argument is that players who don't pan out will be left as "roadkill" in the G League as opposed to enjoying the other benefits going to college can bring. "My concern comes back to I want to know what happens to the kids that you've encouraged not to go to college if they fail," he said Sunday. "What are you going to do for them? That's my whole thing. What is it going to do to 8th and 9th and 10th graders? Are you going to have a whole wave of those kids that think, 'I don't need school I'm going to go to the G league.'"
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are struggling to reach an agreement on lowering the league's minimum age to 18, differing on the league's desire to attach two conditions to ending the one-and-done NBA draft era, league sources told ESPN. Commissioner Adam Silver is pressing NBPA executive director Michele Roberts to require that player-agents furnish all teams with medical information on draft prospects, league sources said. The league also wants to mandate players' attendance and some level of participation in the pre-draft combine, sources said.
Privately, the NBA and NBPA say there is 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.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are struggling to reach an agreement on lowering the age limit to 18, differing on the league's desire to attach two conditions to ending the one-and-done NBA draft era, league sources told ESPN. Commissioner Adam Silver is pressing NBPA executive director Michele Roberts to require that player-agents furnish all teams with medical information on prospective draft prospects, league sources said. The league also wants to mandate players' attendance and some level of participation in the pre-draft combine, sources said.
"We're investing millions of dollars into players who we'll now have even less information about coming out of high school, and we should have the right to have all the information available on who we are selecting," one general manager told ESPN. The union has felt significant pressure from the agent community to resist the NBA's push on ceding control of medical information, sources said. While the NBPA has long advocated the lowering of the age limit to 18, so far the union has shown no inclination to surrender on these issues without minimally a give-back elsewhere from the NBA.
Starting in 2019, the G-League will offer “select contracts," worth $125,000 to elite prospects who are at least 18 years old, but not yet eligible for the NBA draft. At a media availability on Thursday, Penny said he believes most one-and-done players will take the money and run.
“It will affect college basketball for sure, because the one-and-dones that don’t go to the NBA will go there for the $125,000,” Hardaway said. “Most kids don’t want to be in a school for four years, especially the kids that have the ability to go the next level. I don’t know if it will affect my recruiting, because you’re going to get them into school. It’s just the one and done kids. It’s definitely going to affect college basketball.”
“I think most of the parents want to go,” Hardaway said. “They’re pushing their kids to go. The kids may want to stay, but the parents are pretty much pushing the kids to go.” “The thing that I hear nowadays with kids and their parents around the country is image and building the name, and I think they’re going to use that to springboard their kids to the NBA.”
Monte Poole: 'I'd like to see the one-and-done . . . done.' -@Warriors coach Steve Kerr on new rule opening door to better G-League pay for select prep prospects.
Adam Johnson: Asked for comment from G League President Malcolm Turner on the future wage gap caused by the new contracts announced today and if they plan to address that issue: “This isn’t a new development - NBA G League rosters have always been made up of a diverse group of players at different stages of their careers who are earning different salaries. The small pool of elite athletes signed to Select Contracts will be yet another group in locker rooms that already include this diversity.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA informed teams no changes to allow HS players into Draft will happen prior to 2022, sources tell ESPN. NBA/NBPA have been negotiating to change age eligibility to 18. HS players could already go directly into G-League -- it’s just now elite can make $125K instead of $35K.
Jared Zwerling: The G League today announced a Select Contract, starting with the 2019-20 season, to elite prospects who are eligible to play in the G League, but not yet eligible for the NBA. For elite players who are at least 18 years old; will pay $125,000 for the 5-month season.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver says Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is uniquely qualified to be the chairman of the league's labor relations committee. That's because Jordan has the gravitas to credibly translate the owners' viewpoint to the players and the players' viewpoint to the owners. Silver specifically mentioned Jordan Tuesday when talking about the issues facing the league that would require compromise with the players association. Among those: competitive balance, as it relates to free agency and the salary cap, and the possibility of changing the draft-entry age for U.S. players from 19 to 18.
Jordan, a hall-of-famer, was a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and won six championships with the Chicago Bulls. "There's no doubt that so many players look up to him. Many in our current class of superstars look across the table and think, 'That's where I want to be one day,'" Silver said in response to an Observer question. "He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions (with the players) and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view. When owners are going into discussions with players, Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.''
Commissioner Adam Silver made it clear on Tuesday that there is growing support for a change that would allow players to enter the league at the age of 18 rather than require them to play one year of college basketball – or internationally. Such a move would have to be collectively bargained with the National Basketball Players Association, but Silver’s tone on this topic was the strongest sign yet that it’s only a matter of time.
“My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change,” Silver said after the conclusion of the latest round of owners' meetings. “It won’t come immediately, but…when I weighed the pros and cons – (and) given that (former Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice and her (NCAA) commission has recommended to the NBA that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league and, in essence, the college community is saying ‘We do not want those players anymore,’ I mean that sort of tips the scale in my mind that we should be taking a serious look at lowering our age to 18.”
The NBA on Friday sent teams a memo indicating that "eligibility rules" for the draft may shift as early as 2021 (but no earlier) as the league reviews issues "related to player development and the corruption investigation in college basketball," according to a copy of the memo obtained by ESPN.
The memo does not mention the one-and-done rule by name, but it is meant to remind teams the league and the players union could agree to scrap one-and-one before the expiration of the current collective bargaining deal in 2024 -- and perhaps well before then, sources say. The memo says that as of now, the league does not expect changes in draft eligibility rules would take place at any time "prior to the 2021 or 2022 draft" -- for example in 2019 or 2020.
The 2020 NBA draft is the earliest the NBA would change its draft eligibility rule and return to the high school-to-NBA rule the league used from 1995-2005, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. There is no guarantee a new rule goes into effect in 2020, only that it won’t happen in 2019, the person said, adding further discussion needs to take place.
The NBA allows high school players to enter the G League without the wait. The Commission on College Basketball recommended Wednesday that the NBA and NBPA allow high school players to enter the draft, but college basketball has no ability to effect change on the issue. The NBA and NBPA must collectively bargain a change of the early entry rule. The Commission on College Basketball made a recommendation to allow college players who declare for the NBA draft to retain their eligibility should they go unselected in the draft.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association's conversations on eliminating the one-and-done entry rule have centered on lowering the minimum age requirement no sooner than the 2020 draft, league sources told ESPN. NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts have discussed scenarios to end the requirement for American players to wait one year after high school graduation to enter the NBA draft, but no formal agreement could be reached before the NBPA's executive committee, including president Chris Paul, gather for a meeting at the end of the NBA playoffs in June.
Steve Kyler: It seems we are heading towards dropping one and done, most of the execs I have spoken with think it happens for 2020... we'll see if it does. It's not an NBA rule exclusively, Players Association has to approve it and that's always complicated.…
Recently, there's been a lot of talk about finding alternatives to the NCAA -- even LaVar Ball's trying to get in on the action -- but 'Reef argues that 1 year of college education is better than none. "I think they should just leave it how it is ... college gets kids ready for the NBA," O'Neal said.
Some of the big headlines in sports today press on ongoing scandals plaguing the NCAA. When asked if he thought the NBA G-League could become an alternative for young athletes not looking to play in college, Commissioner Stern was clear. “I would hope so. It’s a complete fraud the whole thing.” He continued, “I’m a harsh critic of the NCAA for taking players that they know aren’t there to learn and in many cases, don’t go to classes in their second semester. Instead they put them in online classes just to finish the year so they don’t lose their scholarships.” “So there is something very bad going on and everyone blames the NBA’s ‘one and done’ rule.” He adds, “Well the NBA doesn’t have a one and done rule; the NBA’s rules says players have to be 19; it doesn’t matter if they go to college.”
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?"
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.”
Tim Bontemps: Silver: “Are we better off intersecting with (players) when they are a little bit younger?” Also says there are clearly some players who can walk into the league and play at 18.
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January 30, 2023 | 2:00 pm EST Update
Thursday in South Philadelphia, the 76ers hosted their annual Sixers Youth Foundation Gala. The result? More than $1.5 million raised for the youth of Camden, Philadelphia, and the Greater Delaware Valley. “We’re so excited to be able to help Philly,” 76ers Managing Partner Josh Harris said at the gala. “We have a lot of history with the city, and with the Sixers and with the Sixers Youth Foundation, we can do a lot of good.
The Sixers players, coaches, staff, and ownership were all in attendance. “We have a lot of people who are invested in these programs, a lot of people who care about kids growing up being able to have access to resources and opportunities,” Shake Milton said. “I think it’s important to continue to try to pour into our youth and pour into the people that are going to be building and leading this country one day.”
January 30, 2023 | 1:53 pm EST Update

Payton Pritchard hints at a departure from Boston

Pritchard opened up a bit about his situation in Boston on the Point Forward podcast with Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner this past week and got candid about his situation and uncertain future with the Celtics beyond this year. Andre Iguodala: “Walk me through the next 5 or 10 years for yourself.” Payton Pritchard: “Obviously after I’m done here, after this year, I’d like to look — be a part of a bigger role a little bit.”