NBA missed chance to make draft combine optional in new CBA

Annual NBA Draft Combine, held in Chicago, Somewhere between the preseason and the Rookie-Sophomore Game in the hierarchy of trivial offseason events is a footnote on the offseason calendar rankings. The association’s one-stop pre-draft shop for medically examining prospects, conducting interviews, obtaining accurate anthropometric measurements, putting prospects through biomechanical tests and creating an extra week of off-season buzz with passionate coverage. The opposite is a stealth operation. The NFL gets bunched up because top prospects never show up. In 2022, none of the top five picks in last year’s draft participated in the alliance, portraying its inconsistent existence.

However, a Jointly composed NBA-National Basketball Players Association memo According to data obtained by ESPN, to change this by making the draft combine mandatory for all invited prospects after ratifying the league’s new collective bargaining agreement before the 2023–24 league year. To discourage healthy prospects from leaving the alliance altogether, the memorandum stipulated that eligible prospects who declined to participate would be deemed ineligible for that year’s draft.

Clever debates over the old speed, strength and agility tests will never be as integral to player evaluation as the NFL Draft. Instead, the NBA collusion agreement emerged from the league’s interest in ending the practice of increasing prospects by discouraging teams from drafting them by refusing to share their medical history with undesirable organizations.

But the NBPA missed a real opportunity to make ground changes by keeping the draft intact. This memo could have been a specially crafted loophole for top prospects to skip the annual employment draft and make their decisions as undrafted free agents. Unfortunately, the memo also includes a clause explicitly prohibiting prospects who also leave the draft combine from being roster-eligible until the following league year. According to the memo, players without a waiver due to health, or emergency leaving the draft “will be blocked for the first subsequent draft for which the player participates and fully participates.”

Accidental genius… almost

NBPA almost stumbled upon a blueprint for a future where drafting is an option and tanking has even less incentive. A draft dodging prospect could exploit a draft choice system not only by opting out of the combine, but also by excluding himself from being selected in the draft and negotiating a short-term contract with the franchise of his choice. It would be detrimental to deny said rookies the lucrative four-year guaranteed contracts and lavish rookie extensions currently enshrined in the CBA, but rich rookies would be eligible for potential max extensions much sooner than their drafted peers.

think of it as Austin Reeves Versus Cade Cunningham Pathway. The No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft is two years away from signing a rookie extension similar to Ja Morant’s $200 million extension. Currently, the Cunningham has just completed the second year of its four-year, $45 million expansion. A risk-averse prospect would be willing to take guaranteed millions rather than become a low-compensated undrafted free agent.

On the other hand, Reeves, who went undrafted in 2021, could receive offers as high as $100 million in four years From Buyers in restricted free agency this summer.

Subsidiary major changes instituted in the CBA also created an opportunity for draft-eligible high schoolers or college players who signed with professional leagues such as the G League, NBL, or Overtime Elite and insisted the draft be there. want to stay or not. , One-on-one players like Jalen Green, LaMelo Ball, and Dyson Daniels were drafted early in the past, so this didn’t affect them. Unfortunately, this created complications for the teenage prospects, whose draft stock plummeted but were unable to stick around for a second season, and slipped through the cracks undrafted.

In 2021, Five-star prospect DeShawn Knicks was forced into the draft after one season with the Ignite and met that fate. Under the new CBA, the Knicks could keep his name out of the draft for at least one more season. By correcting this flaw, the league anticipates it will make their invisible developmental program more attractive than the NIL-NCAA route where players are able to retain their draft eligibility for multiple seasons.

Both amendments benefit the league office by moving the NBA’s G League Ignite program and their annual draft combine forward, but the NBPA balked. They would be much better off digging in their heels and spending the next few years in the middle of CBA negotiations creating an Andy Dufresne-sized hole for players willing to take risks and opt out of the draft.

Follow DJ Danson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex