NBA Labor: Players Association Suggests Reducing Age Limit To 18

You have to give it to the NBA Players Association: they certainly are finding creative ways to compromise to prevent a lockout from occurring in 2011. Their latest proposal, released in a podcast sent out to players last week that just became public, includes lowering the age limit back down to 18 and "incentivise" players to remain in college.

Via Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal:

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."

It's not clear what kind of incentives Hunter is proposing, but one possibility is that the rookie salary scale undergoes some changes. Howard Beck of the New York Times speculates that players who come from college would earn a higher salary.

No specifics are offered, but one possibility would be to adjust the rookie wage scale to reward players who stay in school.    

That is just one element of the NBPA's proposal. Via Beck, here are some others:

  • A admission to discuss a "modest" reduction in the percentage of basketball-related income that goes to players. Currently, 57 percent of NBA revenue goes to the players, but the NBPA is open to lowering that figure. 
  • A call for "enhanced trade flexibility" that would make it so player salaries would only have to match within 250 percent of each other, rather than 125 percent. 
  • A call for increased revenue sharing among owners, where teams would share gate receipts and local revenue, rather than just national broadcast revenue.
  • The reduction of guaranteed contracts from five to four years, with the tradeoff being the creation of a second mid-level exception.
The proposal was sent to the owners a while back, but is first becoming public now. The owners, according to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, don't seem too impressed. Berger reports that they're hung up on the idea of facilitating player movement as a way to cut costs. 

"The more player movement, the more expensive a league is," a management source said. "Football has very little player movement, and it's less expensive. Baseball has a lot of player movement, and it's very, very expensive."    
The players feel the changes are revenue-neutral and whatever reduction in basketball-related income they accept will be sufficient to solve the league's financial situation. The owners don't agree and still want a hard salary cap. Therefore, there's still a stalemate. 
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