Andrew Luck made the right call. I know that's hard to hear, because it cost the Carolina Panthers a potential franchise quarterback, but if I were his dad, I would have advised him to go back to Stanford, too.
It was just too risky that the NFL would settle its labor hassles quickly enough to assure a 2011 season. You combine that with the benefits of a Stanford education, and I can see why Luck passed on this draft.
That's why I think the Charlotte Bobcats might be challenged to maximize two first-round picks they own in June.
The Bobcats figure to have two picks in the first 22 (their own, plus a pick the New Orleans Hornets owe the Portland Trail Blazers, conveyed to Charlotte in the Gerald Wallace trade).
First off, I don't know anyone who thinks this will be a great NBA Draft. Second, I think the NBA's labor issues could make the NFL's look like lemonade on the screen porch.
The NFL and NBA both want big concessions from their players associations. The difference is NFL franchises still make money (not enough, they say, but they're still profitable).
Plenty of NBA franchises operate in the red. Commissioner David Stern is intent on changing that and changing a system where paying luxury tax is almost required to advance deeply into the playoffs.
There's a lot of stridency from NBA owners right now; it would not shock me if the entire 2011-12 season was lost. Some franchises might make out better sacrificing a season of revenue to avoid a season of player payroll.
How could an underclassman, on the fence about whether to stay in college or turn pro, not be chilled by the prospect of a long lockout? Normally, if a kid knows he'll be drafted high, I'd say make the money while you can. But being drafted high doesn't make you money in a lockout.
In fact, being drafted into a league that doesn't play next season could be corrosive to that kid's development. He's sacrificed his college eligibility, and spots on European teams won't be plentiful. The term "lockout'' means you're barred from your team's training facility.
So where do you play? Pick-up games? Hardly - you have no guaranteed contract and no health insurance. So you play at the Y at your own risk.
All that will probably persuade some kids to forget about the NBA next season. Others might initially turn pro but retain the option to pull their names and return to college.
I checked with Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins about how it works, matching NBA and NCAA rules: The earliest an underclassman can explore his pro possibilities is April 24. The latest date that guy can exit the draft and preserve college eligibility is May 8.
In between, teams can work out these guys to both their benefit and the players', who are desperate for feedback. I sure hope the Bobcats maximize that opportunity because much of the future is at stake.
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