by Kent Sterling
No one in sports ever asks, “What’s in the best interest of the kids?” unless it’s also in the best interest of the person asking the question.
In the case of the changes being proposed to NBA Draft eligibility the best interest of draftees isn’t in the same time zone as the real motivation not being voiced by many NBA honchos, including commissioner Adam Silver.
Silver is campaigning for a mandatory two-year gap between high school graduation and NBA Draft eligibility. He says it would be “good for the game.” What he means is that it would allow the owners to make more money.
We know it’s about the money because it’s alway about the money. NBA franchise owners aren’t running orphanages, for God’s sake. These are businesses, and – first and foremost – businesses are designed to make money for those who own them.
Players get wealthy too, but Silver wants to delay their wealth for an additional year because that will also delay the onset of a max contract for another year. Unfortunately for Silver, what’s good for the owners is not necessarily good for the general managers who manage the basketball side of the business.
There is very little job security for the GMs of losing teams. The fortunes of the losers would be adversely affected by a 2015 draft that featured only those who felt they were unready for the 2014 draft, so those GMs are against it. GMs who traded a valuable asset for a 2015 draft pick would also be outraged by that change because the value of what they received would be altered, regardless of their draft position.
The original change to a one-year delay in eligibility was championed by those who claimed 18-year-olds were emotionally and physically unready for the rigors of the NBA. What the NBA really meant was that wasting a year of first contract cash while a kid develops made the owners physically ill.
A trite conversion of a biblical saying suggests that the Golden Rule is “Those with the gold make the rules,” and that is just as true at Madison Square Garden as on Wall Street.
It’s all about the money. It’s always about the money. In many NBA issues there is a little room inside the margins to try to do the right thing for the players, but not with a fundamental change in the manner in which future players are procured.
The best plan, and by best I mean the fairest for the players would be for a potential draftee to be allowed to enter the workforce pool whenever the hell he wanted to, and let the teams decide whether he is the best option on the board. Anything less is a money grab, plain and simple.
No fan should begrudge the owners desire to make money as long as that greed is accompanied by a legitimate effort to provide a quality product, but a little truth would be refreshing.
If Silver and the 30 team owners want to change the structure of the draft, they should at least be honest about the primary reason – which is… Everyone? C-A-S-H!
The NBA isn’t along in its craving for increased margins. The NFL is no different, but their version came with the yakking about player safety. That had as much to do with the longterm health effects of 50-year-old former players as all-you-can-eat buffets are about food quality.
Just know what to listen for when you listen to guys like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or Silver prattle on about what’s good for their respective leagues. Everything they say means, “Our owners want more money.”