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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has acknowledged multiple times that the league's one-and-done rule isn't working for the league, the NCAA or any of the affiliated parties. Some of its issues - in particular, the idea that the elite players have little recourse but to attend college for a year - have been exposed in the recent FBI probe, which shined a negative light on dozens of college programs by highlighting illegal recruiting tactics.
An ESPN report on Monday detailed the NBA's exploration into a possible alternative for elite high school basketball players rather than going to college.
According to the report, 18-year-olds could "earn a meaningful salary either from NBA teams or as part of an enhanced option in the developmental G League."
Silver, while discussing the league's 19-year-old age limit, has stressed the need to make first contact with prospects before they reach the NBA.
"Probably the most important issue is the development for the players before they come into the NBA," he said last year. "So now we're at a point where the colleges no longer want them and the players seem a bit disillusioned with their semester-plus playing - I think it means we have to reexamine our policy."
ESPN reported that the NBA is preparing to make inroads with elite high school basketball players, and the NBA has had formal meetings with relevant parties, including the National Basketball Players' Association.
Two people with knowledge of the those conversations confirmed to USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick that the NBA is indeed exploring avenues to connect with elite high school players and improve the developmental system.
NBPA president Michele Roberts discussed the need for youth basketball reform on a recent USA TODAY podcast.
"And so like it or not, I think all of us - the league and even the PA has a responsibility to not wait and think that we can fix things by the time they come to high school," she said. "We need to begin to engage with those kids at a younger age. I have no interest in making any money from these kids. I have no dog in that hunt at all. All I want to do is to be able to educate them about what life could be like, and the dangers and the pitfalls out there. These kids and their families are deserving, and they want information. If the only people talking to them are those who are trying to exploit them, then I think all of us are ignoring our responsibilities to the sport."
The plan, which is waiting on the Commission on College Basketball to issue its report in the spring, entails potentially offering a substitute path to the NBA which could circumvent the NCAA. Silver has met with the commission, headed by Condoleeza Rice, before.
Part of the NBA's plan could hinge on working with elite prospects throughout high school, whether at tournaments or at summer camps. One thought behind developing programs or relationships, from the NBA's perspective, is that it could allow NBA-level coaching, advice on nutritional habits, improved practice regimens or even help with life skills.
There's also the possibility that USA Basketball could be involved.
The NBA implemented two-way contracts this season so players could receive pro experience while also getting substantial time on the court in the G League. It's also a lot more financially competitive than playing solely in the G League, with two-way players capable of making close to $300,000 if they spend the maximum amount of days (45) with the NBA club.
The report alluded to another version of this system where 18-year-olds could potentially play and be better compensated in the G League before they were formally drafted. Silver addressed to the NBA's age issues at All-Star weekend.
"I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting them a little bit younger?" Silver said. "Are we better off bringing them into the league when they're 18 using our G League as it was designed to be as a Development League and getting them minutes on the court there? And there is also recognition that for some of these elite players, there is no question that they can perform in the NBA at 18 years old."
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