The NBA and its players association have reportedly agreed to significant changes in the new collective bargaining agreement that will have wide-ranging impacts on the NBA Draft and how much of a prospect's medical information will be available to teams.
Citing a 91-page joint memo sent out by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, ESPN reported on Tuesday that the new CBA, among many changes, will require players invited to the NBA Draft Combine to not only attend but also to participate or they'll be deemed ineligible to be selected "until the first subsequent draft for which the player attends and fully participates." The requirements are expected to be enacted in 2024.
Participation among top prospects at the NBA Draft Combine has all but dissipated in recent years, likely spurring the changes to the new CBA. On top of declining to compete in the 5-on-5 portion of the annual combine, top prospects have increasingly declined to do drill work, measurements, interviews and in some cases opted to skip the event altogether. Because there has been no incentive to participate, top prospects frequently do not show up or show up and leave shortly thereafter without so much as speaking to teams or media.
Declining to participate in the combine by way of not competing, doing interviews or sharing medical information has in recent years been a way for agents to potentially use leverage to steer clients to certain destinations and away from others. However, the new changes will require participants to engage fully in most of the events the top prospects have mostly chosen to forgo, aside from scrimmages. Here's more from ESPN:
Participation will include league medical examinations, sharing of medical history and biomechanical and functional movement testing, as well as strength and agility testing, shooting drills, performance testing and anthropometric measurements. Players will also be required to conduct team interviews, media circuits, player development sessions and other assessments, as determined by the NBA in consultation with the NBPA. Players will not be compelled to compete in five-on-five scrimmaging, which typically only a handful of first-round prospects elect to participate in.
There are exceptions to the requirements such as players who are physically unable to participate or for international players still competing or other extenuating circumstances, though medical components -- expected to be completed at a later date -- are still a requirement to be draft eligible.
There is also clarity from the new CBA on what information will be disseminated and to which teams. ESPN reports there will be limits on sharing of medical information among teams based on projected draft ranges of top prospects. ESPN's example is as follows:
For example, the projected No. 1 pick will only have his medical information shared with teams picking in the top 10. Players ranked 2-6 will be shared with teams in the top 15, and players 7-10 with teams in the top 25, with the exception of potentially life-threatening injury or medical conditions that render a player unfit to perform his duties as a professional basketball player, in accordance with the Fitness-to-Play Panel process.
How players will be put into draft ranges will be agreed upon between the NBA and the NBPA using rankings and an appointed panel of experts as well as a scouting service.
The new CBA will also remove automatic draft eligibility for high school or college players that sign professional contracts with the G League Ignite, Overtime Elite or the NBL. Under the current construction of the CBA, players who have signed with professional paths would become automatically eligible for the next NBA Draft so long as they turned 19 years old in the same calendar year. This specific change will allow players involved in other professional paths to enter the draft at the time of their choosing as opposed to becoming eligible immediately, potentially changing the calculus for professional leagues and their pitch to retain top talents.