What does the NBA's new TV deal mean for a lockout and expansion?
I have a new column for Sports Illustrated on the legal and business impact of the NBA's new $24 billion deal with ESPN and Turner. Hope you have a chance to check it out.
Here is an excerpt:
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4. Silver can now turn to other priorities
After he took over as commissioner earlier this year, Silver surprised many by expressing that raising the NBA’s age eligibility rule was his top priority. The rule, which is contained in the CBA, requires that U.S. players be at least 19 years old and one year out of high school, while international players -- many of whom turn pro in foreign leagues when they are 14 or 15 -- be at least 19 years old. The rule is controversial on many fronts, and as a disclosure, I have longarguedagainst a rule that prevents players from entering the NBA out of high school. The view of Silver and many others is that the NBA would be better off with older, more polished players. These players are also more marketable when they enter the NBA as their names are often familiar to NBA fans who follow college basketball.
Any change to the league’s eligibility rule would have to be collectively bargained with the NBPA. The NBPA represents the interests of prospective players even though those players, who are in high school or younger, are not NBPA members and thus have no seat at the bargaining table.
One twist to the age eligibility discussion is the possibility that NBA’s D-League could become a more attractive employer to players who are legally too young for the NBA but not interested in playing college basketball or going abroad. The D-League’s age limit is 18, meaning that players are eligible for employment out of high school. Few take advantage of that option due to the league’s low salaries for a six-month season. D-League salaries are reportedly capped at $25,000, although players on NBA contracts who are assigned to the D-League are still paid their NBA salaries.
In his press conference Monday, Silver highlighted that the D-League would benefit from the new TV deal. To that extent, increased TV revenue would mean higher salaries for players and a professional life more akin to playing in the NBA. That should enable the D-League to better compete with the NCAA for top young talent.