If the NBA is going to raise its age limit for incoming players, the D-League is going to need a major overhaul first.
Sporting News' Sean Deveney cites "multiple sources" when reporting there is a proposed plan that would force players to be three years removed from high school before entering the NBA draft.
However, if that happens—although talk on the matter can't seriously move forward until the NBA players association finds an executive director capable of negotiating with new NBA commissioner Adam Silver—the league wants there to still be a way for players to make a living.
Currently, outside of the NBA, there are two realistic options in doing just that: playing overseas or playing in the D-League. The latter is certainly more ideal in terms of location—not many players have followed in Brandon Jennings' footsteps and spent a season in a foreign country—but it also pays annual salaries as low as $18,000.
Jeff Foote, a 26-year-old "veteran" who has experienced playing both places, explained the problem of the D-League, via Deveney:
If they were to increase the salaries here, this would be easily the second-best league in the world. I think that is kind of what kills it, unfortunately. I get the business aspect of it, I understand, it is tough to raise the revenues to pay the players. But I think that is where the competition loses out. It is tough to raise a family on a D-League salary. In Europe, everything that is covered here in the D-League is covered there, too, plus you make six times, seven times more money.
Therein lies the potential solution if the NBA age limit is increased.
According to Deveney, the NBA would "expand salaries in the D-League, giving each team a salary cap and allowing executives with each team to sign players as they wish."
Should there be an NBA age limit?
There are undoubtedly negatives in raising the NBA's age limit—take a look at what guys like Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond have done in the Association before their 21st birthdays—but it would also seriously increase the quality of play at both the collegiate and D-League levels.
Imagine this year's Kentucky team. You saw how good the young Wildcats finally became at the end of the season; now imagine them after two years. Imagine Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins going after each other in the D-League.
Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, via thebrooklyngame.com's Devin Kharpertian, is certainly a proponent of raising the age limit:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says one-and-done is "a travesty," adds NBA should consider 21-year-old age limit or require college degree.— devin kharpertian (@uuords) April 11, 2014
What's better is that this proposal would give players choices. They could stay in college and work on their education, or they could go to the D-League if making a living is more of a pressing factor.
Of course, there are still plenty of roadblocks, and an actual change on this front isn't likely to come in the near future. But at the very least, it's a tantalizing thought that would significantly alter the landscape of professional and amateur basketball.