SBD/December 8, 2010/Leagues And Governing Bodies

NBPA Proposes Lowering Draft Eligibility Age To 18 In CBA Counter

NBPA Would Look To "Incentivize" Players To Attend College If Age Limit Rolled Back To 18

The NBPA has proposed to the NBA that the age limit to enter the league be lowered to 18 years of age and has indicated that it would be willing to negotiate a decrease in the guaranteed percentage of revenues paid to players to below 57%. NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter revealed previously undisclosed details of the union’s counterproposal in an audio podcast sent to every NBA player in the league last week, according to a source. As part of the union’s proposal to roll back the age limit from the current one year removed from high school or 19 years old to 18 years old, Hunter indicated that the union would seek changes to the current system “to incentivize high school and college athletes to attend school.” The proposal would likely entail changes to the NBA rookie wage scale. Additionally, Hunter in the podcast said the union “signaled that we are willing to negotiate a modest reduction of the 57% guarantee of BRI (basketball related income) so that the teams on their own, without changes to the soft cap system, can bring spending down below 57%. We will not hold the owners to that 57% guarantee.” Hunter in the podcast said, “We proposed numerous changes that will benefit both the players and the league.” He added the union’s proposals were an attempt to craft “a reasonable proposal in an attempt to avert a work stoppage.”

SOME GIVE AND TAKE: The NBA is seeking to reduce payments to players by 30-40% across the board. While the players union has rejected these attempts by the league, the willingness to negotiate a reduction to the 57% guarantee signals a willingness by the players to bend. Hunter said the union’s willingness to reduce the 57% of BRI going to players would not alter the salary cap escrow or tax threshold in place in the current CBA. Hunter told players during the podcast, “Simply put, we are shifting the responsibility to the teams to make better business decisions.” Another proposal the union made to the league was to eliminate the bi-annual exception, which allows teams to spend over the salary cap by $2M every year. In exchange, the union proposed there would be two mid-level exception players, instead of the current one. And, under the NBPA’s proposal, those two mid-level players’ maximum contract lengths would be decreased by one year to four years.

TALKING THINGS THROUGH: The NBPA made its counterproposal to the NBA over the summer, but kept a tight lid on the details. Although the NBA rejected the offer, the podcast provides previously undisclosed details on the union’s position in the negotiations. The NBA CBA expires on June 30, 2011, and Hunter has said publicly there is a high likelihood that players will be locked out. The NBA did have an age limit of 18 for years, but raised the age to 19 years old in the current CBA, which took effect in the ‘05-06 NBA season. It has been criticized as the “one-and-done” rule, because, in recent years, many talented basketball players left NCAA college basketball programs after one season in order to enter the NBA Draft. 

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