The NBA Should Poach Top College Coaches for the D-League

"I coach a minor league NBA team anyway, I might as well go to the D-League."

The minimum age requirement to play in the NBA is 19. For the top high school basketball players in the country, this means being a one-and-done player, where Kentucky’s John Calipari has mastered the art of coaching players who only stay for their freshman year, specifically for the pros.

New commissioner Adam Silver has proposed an age requirement of 20, which would mean two years of school. He believes it will make the “NBA a better, more mature class of players filtering into the NBA each year and a strengthened profile for them by starring at the college level.”

Michele Roberts, the new NBA Players Union disagrees.

“I’m adamantly opposed to [raising the age minimum],” Roberts said. “I’ve been practicing law for 30 years. One of the beauties of being in that job is that I can practice until I lose my mind or die. That is not the case with athletes. You have a limited life to make money as a basketball player. Anything that limits those opportunities is distressing to me. I view [the age minimum] as just another device that serves to limit a players’ ability to make a living.”

Well, there’s a simple answer here. Poach the top college coaches and pay them loads of money go to the D-League.

Here’s an idea of what it would look like. I’ve taken four coaches and moved them to the nearest D-League affiliate.

Coach Team City & State Distance from Home
John Calipari Fort Wayne Mad Ants Fort Wayne, IN (Lexington) 236 miles
Mike Krzyzewski Delaware 87ers Newark, DE (Durham NC) 364 miles
Bill Self Oklahoma City Blue Oklahoma City, OK (Lawrence KA) 317 miles
Jim Boeheim Westchester Knicks Westchester, NY (Syracuse NY) 237 miles


Here’s how it would look from each party’s perspective.


Teams can properly train and condition players without having to worry that they’re too immature and undeveloped for the rigors of the pros. If the next LeBron-like phenom enters the league, then sure, he’ll be able to play for the A-team, but for the rest, they can take their time. It’s all about managed expectations.

This would also be a boon for the D-League. High profile players would create fan interest and boost the economy for cities like Boise, Idaho and Des Moines, Iowa.

The Players

They get paid and can develop at their own pace. No more agonizing decision of whether to declare for the draft, or sticking out another year to improve their stock. Going overseas because of academic ineligibility (like Emmanuel Mudiay — who initially signed on to play for Larry Brown at Southern Methodist University, chose to play in China because of his grades) won’t be an issue anymore.

With top coaches already in the NBA and the promise of a rookie contract, heading to the D-League would be a no-brainer.


The tournament would have the most parity since 2006 — the last season high school kids were allowed to go straight to the NBA. 11th seeded George Mason snuck into the Final Four. Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick were the best college players in the country.

Even without the top players going to school the NCAA would still draw just as much revenue from sponsors during the tournament.

College fans

Sure the most talented players won’t be playing for your favorite school, but in exchange, teams gets four-year continuity. There would still be some coaches who would stay, and this would redistribute the talent towards these particular schools. Four-year guys (Draymond Green and Doug McDermott types) could still lead their teams and enter the draft after graduating.

As far as your missing coach? Just promote the assistant, the system’s already in place.

NBA fans

There would be a huge spike in D-League interest. The goal would be to fill all 18 teams with coaches. Next season, let’s say Ben Simmons (the top high school player in the country), gets drafted by the Knicks. Fans would take the Metro North to him play for the Boeheim coached Westchester Knicks. Sixer fans would shoot down to Newark, Delaware to check out their pick play for the Krzyzewski coached Delaware 87ers. You get the idea.


Everybody wins. Get to it, Adam!


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