55. Are there restrictions based on a player's age?
There are rules regarding the minimum age for draft eligibility. A player can't play in the NBA unless he's been eligible for at least one draft (he doesn't have to actually be drafted, he just has to have been eligible). A player who is eligible for a draft must be at least 19 during the calendar year of that draft, and if a U.S. player, at least one year removed from high school. In addition, at least one of the following must be true:
•The player has graduated from a U.S. four-year college or university prior to or during the calendar year of the draft, and has no remaining NCAA eligibility.
•The player is attending or has previously attended a U.S. four-year college or university, his original class has graduated prior to or during the calendar year of the draft, and has no remaining NCAA eligibility.
•The player attended high school in the U.S., did not attend college, and four years have elapsed since he graduated (or his class graduated, if he did not graduate).
•The player has played as a professional outside the NBA prior to January 1 of the draft year.
•The player has declared himself an "Early Entry" player.
•The player is an international player (see question number 74) for whom at least one of the following is true: ◦Is 22 during the calendar year of the draft (an international player who is older than 22 and was not drafted in the year of his 22nd birthday is a free agent)
◦Has played as a professional in the U.S. but outside the NBA
◦Has declared himself an "Early Entry" player.
The league and players association decided to table the discussion of raising the age for draft eligibility in order to facilitate a settlement of the 2011 lockout and start the 2011-12 season on December 25, 2011. The sides will form a joint committee to review and implement new rules regarding the age of eligibility. The rules from the 2005 CBA have been left in place until this committee has made its determinations (only the timing of contracts for players playing professionally outside the U.S. was changed in the meantime).
There are also rules which prevent teams from padding extra years onto contracts for older players. The "Over-36" rule is described in question number 56.