USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reported this afternoon that the NBA has submitted a formal proposal to the NBPA to allow 18-year-olds to be eligible for the NBA Draft by 2022. The current rules require players to be 19 before they can be drafted, and lowering the age limit would be the first step towards eliminating the one-and-done rule that has been in place since 2005. This news comes one day after Zion Williamson suffered a scary-looking knee injury, though the report clarified that the timing is purely coincidental.
In July, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change ... we should be taking a serious look at lowering our age to 18.” The NBA and NBPA will have to agree on any changes to the 2016 collective bargaining agreement, which expires after the 2023-24 season. USA Today reports that the NBA asked for the new rule to be implemented by the 2022 draft.
Why the 2022 draft? The league wants to give teams ample time to prepare for the change, and with the NBA submitting a proposal to the union now, it’s clear it would prefer to reach an agreement, or at least a framework of the deal, in the next few months.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in October that the league and the union were moving forward with discussions, and despite the union seemingly getting what they want here, it’s not like this is quite yet a done deal. For one, the NBA wants to require players’ agents to hand over medical information to teams before the draft, as well as mandate combine attendance for certain prospects.
In wholly unrelated news, Bronny James will be 18 when the 2023 NBA Draft rolls around.