One And Done: Kevin Stallings And Mark Cuban Can't Find A Clue With A GPS

Andy Lyons

When somebody says "rule x would be better," you have to ask the question, "better for who?"

Kevin Stallings thinks college basketball should adopt the "baseball rule", which is essentially that all players are eligible for the NBA draft out of high school, but those who decide to go to college must stay at least three years.

That's not going to happen. NBA teams control the "one and done," and they don't want kids coming to the league straight out of high school. No amount of highfalutin proclamations from Stallings or Calipari or anyone else is going to change that reality.

I can't think of a topic that has engendered more uninformed rhetoric than this one, from Mark Cuban to Kevin Stallings. Calipari is one of the few making any sense at all, to his great credit. Consider this remark from Stallings:

"We have the notion we can protect these kids from themselves," he said. "I don't really believe that is the case. ...

"For me, if a kid wants to and can go to the NBA out of high school, I say we let him. If good enough, there's no reason he should try to fake everybody by going to college for a year. And if he goes to college, if he stays two or three years, obviously, he has to do some school work. He has to work toward a degree."

Like Mark Cuban's ignorant utterance of the other day, laid bare by The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy, Stallings displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. Nobody is trying to "protect the[se] kids" in the NBA, and the NCAA is powerless to force their hand. This is all about business, and the NBA getting better value for their dollar by having OAD in place. As it turns out, it is also ostensibly better for kids to go to college for a year than straight to the NBA when it comes to making them better adults and professionals. The downside is, OAD also reduces the lifetime earnings of players because they miss out on at least one contract year, and the second contract, where the real money is, is delayed by at least a year.

The NBA is going to look out for its best interests, and they have a perfect right to do that. They aren't happy with the OAD, either, and would love to see it two years or more, but the players union is determined not to give them two years unless they get concessions from management. The NBA is not going back to the old rule where high school players are immediately eligible, whether via the "baseball rule" or not — their best interests are served by more college time, not less, which is why they fought so hard to get it in place after several years of players coming in directly from high school to college between 1995 and 2004.

The NBA doesn't care one whit about the money players miss out on, nor should they. What rational business argument suggests it is a good idea to pay wet-behind-the-ears young people barely old enough to vote millions of dollars in salary until they grow up enough to contribute to the team's success? By forcing players to wait even one year, the NBA saves millions and potentially puts a better product on the floor. Making them wait more than one year would most likely produce even better results from an NBA perspective, and would undoubtedly save the NBA even more money. That's why they'd like to see it in the collective bargaining agreement. The NBA players profess to oppose it, but more likely, they oppose giving it away for free.

As for what is best for the young players, well, that's another debate, one that the NBA has absolutely no stake in. There are always going to be players vying for NBA rosters, no matter what age or experience limit gets negotiated. The NBA isn't the only game in town, of course, but right now, they possess the prestige that makes playing there the dream of almost all of America's young basketball talent. As long as that is true, they will always get the pick of the litter regardless of what their draft eligibility policy is.

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