When the Miami Heat included an unprotected 2021 first-round NBA draft choice in the February 2015 trade with the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragic, it was considered the cost of doing business.
Now that cost could multiply, depending on how quickly the NBA moves toward the expected end of the one-and-done rule requiring most draft prospects to spend at least one season playing collegiately.
As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had previously articulated, the league, in concert with its players union, has been studying the possibilities of abolishing the ban on players entering the league at age18 directly out of high school.
Friday, ESPN obtained a copy of a league memo that stated the change could come as soon as the 2021 draft.
For the Heat, that could compound the reality that as part of the deal for Dragic that also includes this month’s No. 16 first-round pick being forwarded to the Suns, the Heat also were not allowed to added protections to the 2021 pick forwarded.
In essence, should the NBA decide that 2021 will mark the end of the one-and-done requirement, it would make that year’s draft essentially a double pool of players -- 2021 NCAA freshmen who previously could not apply for the draft as well as 2021 high-school seniors.
The Heat are the only team with an unprotected 2021 first-round pick fully committed elsewhere, unable to include protections in the Dragic trade because of picks that remained outstanding at the time of the trade.
The Heat retain their 2019 and 2020 first-round selections, as well as their 2022 first-round pick.
According to ESPN, the NBA’s memo issued in advance of Thursday’s draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn reads, “As we approach the NBA Draft on June 21 and the increase in trade activity that often accompanies it, please be reminded of this ongoing review and the possibility that the eligibility rules could change.”
The expectation of such a change was not anticipated when the Heat completed the exchange of those two first-round picks for Dragic in 2015. Dragic has two seasons remaining on his contract, with the possibility he could be elsewhere by the time that 2021 pick is exercised by the Suns.
According to a source familiar with the NBA memo, the Heat have not attempted to lobby the league to delay potential implementation of the change.
The memo, according to ESPN, says the league will further discuss the potential change at league meetings during the July NBA summer league in Las Vegas, a meeting that will include Heat representation.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks could potentially also owe unprotected picks in 2021, but only if previous protections are met.
The NBA instituted the one-and-done rule after the 2005 draft, a draft that included the selection of prep prospects such as Martell Webster, Andrew Bynum, Gerald Green, C.J. Miles, Monta Ellis, Lou Williams and Amir Johnson. That was followed by one of the weakest NBA drafts in years in 2006, when top selections included Andrea Bargnani, Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas, Shelden Williams, Patrick O’Bryant and Saer Sene in the first 10.
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