MIAMI — The Heat had to give up quite a bit to acquire Goran Dragic in a February 2015 trade. But it could be even more than Miami originally thought, depending on how quickly the NBA moves away from the one-and-done rule that requires most draft prospects to spend at least one season playing in college.
A league memo obtained by ESPN states that “eligibility rules” for the draft may shift as early as 2021, which isn’t surprising considering that NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s players union have recently discussed the possibility of ending the one-and-done rule. If the change really is implemented in the 2021 draft, the price the Heat paid to acquire Dragic will be higher than they anticipated.
The Heat are currently the only team with an unprotected 2021 first-round pick committed elsewhere, which is part of the package Miami traded to Phoenix for Dragic. The Heat’s first-round selection in Thursday’s draft also belongs to the Suns.
But dealing away the 2021 pick could prove to be especially painful for the Heat. If the one-and-done rule is abolished starting in 2021, that year’s draft could be one of the most loaded in recent history with the best prospects from two consecutive high school classes (NCAA freshman who could not apply for the draft straight out of high school the previous year and 2021 high school seniors).
The NBA’s current collective-bargaining agreement does not expire until 2024, but the memo obtained by ESPN was sent out to remind teams the one-and-done rule could be eliminated before then — no earlier than the 2021 draft, though.
“As we approach the NBA Draft on June 21,” the memo obtained by ESPN states, “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” between 2021 and 2024.
The Heat don’t have a pick in Thursday’s draft, and don’t own both of their selections in a draft until 2022. Miami does have a first-round pick in the 2019, 2020, 2022, 2023 and 2024 drafts.