The re-entry rule was great when the deadline was late May. They've screwed it up so badly in order to allow coaches to sleep at night.
The NBA Draft Should Be Totally Different
Darius Morris and Jack Johnson
The Bylaw Blog has developed a recurring theme of late: by placing greater restrictions on the folk it has control over it cedes territory to people it doesn't. A prime example is when the NCAA banned college coaches from attending AAU events. AAU events didn't stop collecting players or happening, and coaches got more distant from the players they were trying to recruit. This provides greater influence for middlemen, and in college basketball these days lots of middlemen want to get paid, yo.
Here's another example, one year after ACC coaches successfully lobbied the NCAA to move the draft withdrawal date up 40 days:
A year later, here we are again. The ACC's coaches drafted a new proposal, one that moves the early-entry deadline all the way up to the day before the beginning of the spring signing period. In 2011, that date -- April 12 -- would have passed us by weeks ago. It would have given underclassman prospects exactly eight days after the national title game to decide whether they wanted to go pro or stay in school for another year. It would have -- I mean, it will; I'm still having trouble with the idea that this is actually happening -- forced players with millions of dollars on the line to make life-altering decisions in the matter of a few days with minimal information on which to make them.
Why move the date? April 10th is the day before basketball's late signing period. Now coaches will know how many spots they have open when that period opens. Except they wont. Bylaw Blog:
In attempting to control the draft process, college coaches have lost all control of the draft process to the NBA. Instead of an NCAA deadline of May 8, the new deadline is not April 10, but still April 24, the NBA's deadline.
The NBA's shown no interest in helping college basketball, so the chances the change actually has any positive effect are slim. The net effect is to prevent a bunch of players from declaring and returning to school. But at least there's an alternate universe in which college coaches are happier.
Why not revamp? I've been bothering the Bylaw Blog about this on twitter, and now I'm going to bother you: you could sidestep all these issues by dumping the current NBA draft structure and replacing it with something closer to the MLB/hockey model. In those sports everyone is automatically put into the draft and thus retains their eligibility. In baseball there is a narrow window in which you have to sign or the team loses rights to the player; hockey teams retain rights to the player until they graduate.
The Bylaw Blog keeps shooting down these proposals like so:
Short draft, limited roster spots, lack of minor league make MLB model less workable for basketball. NBA should adopt MLS approach*.
That was the same reasoning given to me when I bothered him about hockey, but I think he's conflating the two models. The MLB model does encourage a bunch of players to sign way before they're ready to enter the major leagues and implementing it in basketball could see a bunch of college stars toiling away in the D-League, something no one wants. (If the NBA had any designs on making people care about the D-League they wouldn't have started forcing players to go to college.)
The hockey model doesn't necessarily have this issue. Since teams retain rights they can leave kids in school until they determine whether or not they want to sign them. Players do tend to sign before they are NHL-ready but that's because there is a ready-made minor league with a higher level of play that acts as an intermediary between the NHL and the league. There isn't in basketball and the D-league is never going to be one, so teams would almost want to keep their players in college until they thought they were ready.
If I woke up tomorrow and was David Stern this is what I'd do:
- Change the draft so that every recruit who signs a LOI is automatically entered.
- Extend the draft to three rounds.
- Rookie contracts are at least one year longer than the amount of eligibility you're giving up. (IE, straight out of high school: five years, junior: two years, senior: one year, but in that case you don't have the sign the guy so this is essentially zero years.) That roster spot cannot be reclaimed by cutting the player; contracts are not 100% guaranteed but have some floor (probably the league minimum) that is.
- Allow unsigned, drafted players to play in the summer league.
And then if I woke up the next day as the president of the NCAA I'd:
- Fume at my lack of power.
But if I woke up the next day as an NCAA president who could force choke anyone who disagreed with me I'd:
- Allow pro teams to pay for their players to attend rookie camps and assorted "should we sign you" activities.
In the specific case of someone near and dear to us who seems to be making an odd decision because of the current NBA draft structure, Darius Morris would have been in the draft out of high school and after his freshman year, but would have been passed over each time. This year he'd be taken at some point, could work out with his team a bit as long as he paid his own way (about which don't get me started, see fuming above), and then it would be up to the team and Morris to decide whether or not he was ready to make the leap. If the NBA team signed Morris immediately they'd be committing to having him on the roster for the next three years, so they'd have to think about it.
In this specific case and a lot of others the player would be far less likely to make a bad decision because he'd be talking directly with the team who held his rights. Similarly, NBA teams who draft a college player only to find out he needs more seasoning than they thought could save the roster spot and cash for someone else as they wait to see which of their prospects develop. Everyone would have more information via which to make better decisions.
Unfortunately, this seems diametrically opposed to the way things are going. Like Brionte Dunn and showing up on campus, I'll start getting my hopes up when people talking sense about how basketball recruiting goes down pass a legislative proposal and no sooner.
*[The MLS approach is to sign the player and then find a home for him, which doesn't seem workable because the NBA is not a single entity, unlike MLS. MLS is competing with leagues around the world for players, so there's a point to negotiating a contract with a league. The NBA isn't competing against anyone for anyone other than Josh Childress, so I'm not sure what the advantage of their structure is for basketball.]
just lead to teams drafting nothing but high school kids? If I draft a high school kid, I have 5 years of control over him, whereas if I draft a college junior I have 2 years of control over him. If I think I can draft a high school kid and teach him to play basketball well enough to be useful within the first 2 years (and NBA teams always, always seem to think they can do this, even where they can' (i.e. Daniel Orton)), then it virtually never makes sense for me to take a junior.
I think this proposal would gut college basketball rather than save it.
They wouldn't sign them all immediately because of money and roster spots. Why take up spots at the bottom of the roster with people who you don't think will be ready for 3 years (and pay them enough to convince them to sign) when you can let them get seasoning in college for free and only pay them when they're ready to contribute?
This is the same reason college hockey players are drafted right out of high school but don't get signed until they're clearly ready (and that's with a viable minor league to drop them into).
Also I am guessing whether you not draft a guy as a senior or sign him after his eligiblity is up he would enter some kind of restricted free agency allowing teams to retain guys that develop late at a discount if they so chose.
that the team that drafts the player retains his rights even if he doesn't sign? I can't tell from the post.
It's not explicitly stated in the bullets, but Brian's references to the hockey model before them imply that rights would be retained for several years.
...if you limit the length of the draft (3 rounds as proposed) the picks are still dear enough that you wouldn't want to "waste" a pick on someone you're not sure will develop. someone like morris would almost certainly have been passed over after high school and after his freshman season.
on someone they're not sure will develop. Daniel Orton was a first round pick despite playing like 4 minutes a game at Kentucky.
If i think I can develop a high school kid into a good basketball player in two years, then drafting and signing him is a better value than taking a more developed college junior, because I'll have an extra year of control over the player, which gives me a competitive advantage.
And even if I think the player isn't ready and might not be ready, another team probably will think he's ready, and if they're right more often than they're not, they'll win more games than I will. I think this proposal would lead to teams drafting any high school senior they think they might be able to mold before taking any kids from college. This is especially true if you get to retain a kid's rights from year-to-year.
I agree that Morris would have been passed over, but Morris is an unusual NBA prospect in that he wasn't all that highly regarded coming out of high school and wasn't great his freshman year. For a lot of guys on the fence, that's not necessarily the case.
I don't think Brian meant that underclassmen and HS seniors would necessarily be signed to longer term contracts than juniors and seniors. Rather that teams would retain their rights longer before they were signed.
In addition, the first year this hypothetical plan was instituted, every college player would be eligible. Assuming three rounds, and with hundreds of potential draft picks in college, only the top 5-15 high school seniors would be drafted in the first year. This number would obviously increase as the system progressed and a greater percentage of college players with NBA potential have already been drafted, but it would have to be years, if ever, before the draft is predominantly high school kids.
Thank you for not putting up the picture of Darius Morris' last shot against Duke.
I think this is a good proposal, but it is complicated so it leads to a lot of potential problems not yet forseen.
It's not a great system, but I like the MLB way where if you sign for college you can't leave for 3 years. You can go pro from high school, but if you sign with a college you have to stay 3 years. It doesn't stop kids from going pro in high school, but it ends the one and done and allows you to get to know your team as a fan.
This reminds me of the Larry Bird when the Celtics drafted him in 1978 and he played for ISU in 79 and when he graduated the Celtics held his rights.
Then let them go right to the NBA out of high school. Even if they tank, there is a strong liklihood they would have tanked in college, and at least they got some life-changing money (assuming they don't blow it all).
If it's about what's best for the league and/or colleges, then make them go to college for 3 years minimum to refine their games, make them household names and spare teams from having to make a multi-million dolar gambles on a high school kid (Eddie Curry, anyone?)
What I suggest is splitting the middle. I would require kids to spend 3 years in either (1) college, (2) Europe (a la Brandon Jennings) or (3) the D-League (with teams being completely independent of NBA franchises and having some lower league-max salary) before they can start playing in the NBA. This would give the kids options instead of having to go to college and act like they care about academics if they don't, and for the kids who do decide to go to college, it would get them a real education and boost the college (and pro) game.
Why is it likely they would tank in college if they do in the pros? Maybe they need more time to develop, something the NBA can't do, because they're interested in winning now. And maybe they don't even develop into a good pro player, but they get to go to college for free and aren't pumping gas after they stop playing basketball.
And life-changing money? That's only if they get drafted, and dratted high. Yeah, Kwame Brown shouldn't be hurting for money. But all the guys who left from high school and were 2nd round picks weren't getting big bucks. And that's not even counting all the guys who didn't get drafted at all, and didn't play pro ball period, and are "pumping gas".
And "assuming they don't blow it"? Big assumption.
I said almost this same thing to my roommate on Monday night. Almost verbatum.
This would require the NCAA to care about kids who may be looking to pursue a career in the field in which they have the most earning potential. This is just going to lead to more kids going to the NBA and more exploitation of kids making an emotional decision and finding themselves in limbo between college and NBA ball.