October 6, 2022

NBA ‘prep-to-pro’ rule could to return as part of new CBA negotiations

Chief among those discussions, the NBA is expected to end the one-and-done rule and reduce the age minimum from 19 years old to 18.

New details have surfaced from collective bargaining agreement (CBA) discussions between the NBA and National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA), highlighting several specific areas the league, its constituents and the players’ representatives are addressing for the next labor deal. Dec. 15 is the mutual opt-out date for the current CBA, and both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio have led negotiations to get the next deal done.

Chief among those discussions, the NBA is expected to end the one-and-done rule and reduce the age minimum from 19 years old to 18. This will allow many high school basketball players to declare for the NBA Draft after their senior year and forgo NCAA basketball.

LeBron James is the most prominent active prep-to-pro player in the NBA, but the list of NBA fixtures to never play college basketball also includes Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, three-time Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins.

The NBA dabbled in college basketball waters when it created the G-League Ignite, a one-year developmental program that recruits elite NBA prospects and pays them a salary up to $500,000 before they declare for the NBA Draft the following season. Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga, for example, signed with the Ignite straight out of New Jersey’s The Patrick School before Golden State drafted him seventh overall in 2021.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern instituted the one-and-done rule after the 2005 NBA Draft, but current commissioner Adam Silver said in July he was “hopeful” for a rule change.

A new development in talks between the NBA and NBPA is the creation of a player equity fund that would help create financial assistance for players after they have retired from basketball. According to The Athletic, the NBPA is looking to create a players-only fund that can help a player become part of an ownership group to purchase a franchise that is up for sale.

The NBA and NBPA are also discussing adding a mental health designation to team injury reports. This would allow players to cite mental health as a reason for missing a game just as they would cite an ankle sprain or lower back pain.

Mental health entered the spotlight in recent seasons with NBA fixtures DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Love and Ben Simmons bringing awareness to the issue. Simmons, for example, missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season citing mental health issues both in Philadelphia and in Brooklyn after his trade.

An additional development that hurts the Nets is the potential for harsher luxury tax penalties. The NBA does not institute a hard salary cap – that is, a salary cap that cannot be exceeded under any circumstances – but the league does enforce a tax penalty for the NBA’s biggest spenders. More punitive penalties for tax offenders is a point of emphasis for some team governors, according to The Athletic.

As a reminder, the Nets currently have the third-highest payroll, behind only the Warriors and Clippers with $187M in guaranteed contracts for the 2022-23 NBA season. The salary cap for the upcoming season sits at $123.655M.