In response to this morning's TrueHoop post about how future rookies pay the price in labor negotiations, because they have no place at the table, collective bargaining guru Larry Coon e-mailed a great point as a follow-up:
Another effect of the lack of representation of these players is the age limitation.
These guys are the first to be thrown under the bus for another important reason -- every time a young player is added to the league, an older veteran loses his job. Since the older vets have votes and the not-yet-a-member-of-the-union guys don’t, the union has no qualms at all about instituting age limits.
Although they have to say the right things publicly, it becomes a great quid pro quo opportunity -- they know the owners want it, so they can hand it over begrudgingly and gain something for themselves in the process.
It’s a win-win for the vets.
It works like this: At the moment, players like Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving are banned from the NBA. If their class were eligible, it would improve the quality of the entire pool of rookies, and presumably an increased number of inexpensive young players would hold roster spots that currently go to highly paid veterans. Goodbye Jamaal Magloire, hello Enes Kanter! You can see why the current members of the union, the people trying to hold onto those NBA jobs the Kanters of the world might take, might be willing to give the owners the age restriction they seem to want, for whatever reason.
The NBA Players Association's Dan Wasserman says that, while he understands the logic of Larry Coon's argument, as someone who has been in on the negotiations, he has found the opposite to be true. "The vast majority of players, 90-percent plus, consistently and overwhelming oppose the age limit," says Wasserman. "The veterans are smart enough to recognize that it's a game about competition, and if somebody can do your jobs cheaper, they're always going to want to replace you whether they're 18 or 25. There's a constant attempt to replace expensive players. But if the tactic was to protect the jobs by eliminating the young competition, we'd have an age limit of 21. But players hate that age limit, and want the best players in the NBA."