By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants the NBA’s draft-eligibility rules changed.
To what, he isn’t sure.
Less than a month away from a draft where about 20 players who completed just one year of college will be welcomed into the league, Silver expects the so-called “one-and-done” rule to be modified — somehow — before too long. But in saying that, Silver also acknowledged that even he isn’t certain what makes the most sense going forward.
“My sense is it’s not working for anyone,” Silver said Thursday night before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “It’s not working for the college coaches and athletic directors I hear from. They’re not happy with the current system. And I know our teams aren’t happy either, in part because they don’t necessarily think the players who are coming into the league are getting the kind of training that they would expect to see.”
It’s been just over a decade since the NBA and the players union agreed on a rule in that says players either need to be 19 years old or be one year removed from high school before being eligible for the draft. There are arguments for raising the minimum age to 20, there are arguments for getting rid of the rule altogether.
Silver said he expects to have more talks in the coming months with the union about the topic.
“I think we all agree that we need to make a change,” Silver said. “As I’ve said before, our position, at least our formal position, going into bargaining was that we wanted to raise the minimum age from 19 to 20, and of course their formal position was they want to lower the age from 19 to 18.
“I think it’s one of those issues that we need to come together and study.”
There were six rookies this season who averaged 10 points per game or more; none were teenagers. One of the advantages that could come from raising the age minimum to 20 would be that players may be more ready for the pro game. Silver said he has talked to many veteran players, who have a sense that the 19-year-olds “are not coming in game-ready.”
Other highlights in Silver’s annual Finals media availability included:
ALL-STAR IN CHARLOTTE: Silver defended the NBA’s decision to return the All-Star Game to Charlotte in 2019, after taking it away and moving it to New Orleans this season in response to the state’s law restricting the rights and anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people.
A deal to repeal that law was struck in March, though critics have said it does not go far enough.
“We had said to the legislative leaders we will consider coming back in 2019, if you change the law,” Silver said. “The law was changed. Sufficient, is a tough … the answer is yes. They made incremental progress. And I felt, in part, there is a role that the league can play in demonstrating what equality looks like to a community.”
Silver said taking All-Star weekend to Charlotte could serve as an example of what it looks like to be non-discriminatory, “and my hope is that by setting that example we can unify people and that the state will follow.”
PHIL JACKSON: Silver said he did not consider disciplining New York Knicks President Phil Jackson for comments suggesting that Knicks star Carmelo Anthony should be traded.
Jackson’s comments raised the ire of the players’ union, which pointed out that players risk being fined if they lobby for trades publicly.
“There’s never been a history in this league of fining a team and disciplining a team executive for talking about trading a player,” Silver said.
KERR’S HEALTH: Silver met with Golden State coach Steve Kerr before Thursday’s game, and expressed regret for the health issues that are keeping the Warriors’ coach off the sideline.
“I’ve known Steve for probably close to 25 years and my heart goes out to him,” Silver said. “As he and I talked about, it puts this all in perspective.”
Kerr hasn’t coached Golden State — 12-0 heading into its third straight Finals against LeBron James and the Cavs — since Game 2 of the first round against Portland. He underwent a procedure to repair a spinal fluid leak on May 5 at Duke University but said he is still ailing and in debilitating pain.
CHINESE PLAYERS: Silver said it’s frustrating to him that basketball-crazed China does not have a player in the league.
“There’s probably more basketball being played in China than anywhere else in the world, and more NBA basketball is being watched in China than anywhere else in the world,” Silver said. “It’s something I’ve talked to Yao Ming a lot about. We all have to do collectively a better job training the best players in China.”
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