Nobody likes you when you're 23, but Adam Silver doesn't want you if you're 19 either.
Having officially replaced David Stern as the new NBA commissioner, Silver has been a busy boy.
During his first road trip as commish, he told the Sacramento Kings' broadcast crew (via SB Nation's Tom Ziller) he planned on ensuring the Association rivaled the NFL in popularity (good luck). Now NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper tells us he's attempting to ban teenagers entirely:
Increasing the age limit to 20 is a priority for Adam Silver. It will be a topic of discussion once the union hires an executive director.— Scott Howard-Cooper (@SHowardCooper) February 6, 2014
Somewhere Andrew Wiggins' ears are burning. And 20-year-old NBA sophomore Anthony Davis is grinning.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, a player must be 19 before he's eligible for the draft. Before retiring, Stern had been attempting to change the age limit (again) for quite some time.
"We would love to add a year, but that's not something that the players' association has been willing to agree to," Stern said in April 2012, per the Associated Press.
The current one-and-done rule has indeed been a sore subject for years. This past August, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott openly admitted he wanted it bounced, per azcentral.com's Doug Haller:
Anyone that’s serious about the collegiate model and the words ‘student-athlete’ can’t feel very good about what’s happening in basketball with one-and-done student athletes. ...
It’s crazy what’s going on. We’ve managed with the NFL and football to have a reasonable policy that allows kids to go pro at the appropriate time. We’ve managed to do it in baseball. Basketball’s the only sport where we haven’t managed to come up with a responsible policy and the blame is with the NBA, the NBA Players Association and the NCAA, so now’s the time to take ownership of it. We’ve got time. We’ve made major changes in football. Now there’s time to make major changes in basketball.
There's certainly merit to what Scott says.
Current rules make recruiting more difficult. Colleges are cycling through one-and-done players at alarming rates and must therefore replace those who make the jump every year.
Commitment also has to be an issue. Are players serious about the teams they're joining when they know it can only be for one year?
If the rules demand they attend college for two years, perhaps that changes. Allowing players to get drafted out of high school is arguably a better idea, because the ones that forgo the NBA in favor of college are likely more serious about it.
How old should players have to be before entering the NBA?
That's obviously not going to happen. The NBA isn't about to let 18-year-olds become millionaires by its own hand again.
Raising the bar to 20 will be difficult enough. As Stern noted above, the idea has been met by strong opposition from the players.
Maybe that changes under Silver's watch. Maybe the age limit increases to 20. Maybe all involved reach a common ground.
For now, let's just enjoy watching 19-year-old phenoms like Giannis Antetokounmpo while we can.