NBA commissioner Adam Silver is so intent on keeping basketball players in college for another year that he said the NBA might consider subsidizing athletes to make them feel better about staying.
Raising the age limit for the NBA draft from 19 to 20 years old would require the approval of the National Basketball Players Association as part of the collective bargaining agreement, but Silver said Wednesday at the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center Partner Summit that he was willing to work with the NCAA to give athletes a more fair deal.
"Rather than focusing on a salary and thinking of them as employees, I would go to their basic necessities," Silver said. "I think if [Connecticut Huskies guard] Shabazz Napier is saying he is going hungry, my God, it seems hard to believe, but there should be ample food for the players."
Silver said he could envision the league potentially contributing to make up the actual cost of attendance gap above what the players get for their scholarships and getting involved in a more complete insurance plan, which could include total disability insurance should an athlete return to school and injure himself so badly he could never play again. Currently, the NCAA provides only a preferred loan rate to elite athletes whom it deems to be potential high draft picks.
"It does, in my mind, need to be a three-way conversation," Silver said. "You heard college administrators at press conferences around the [NCAA] tournament say that it's the NBA's problem or the union is putting up resistance. It's a more complex problem than that."