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Euroleague hopes NBA labor talks stall prospects' move to U.S.

The Euroleague is hoping the ongoing labor negotiations may enable young European players to postpone their move to the NBA, according to Euroleague president and CEO Jordi Bertomeu.

Bertomeu told SI.com that he met with NBA commissioner David Stern approximately a year and a half ago to discuss ways to help prevent young Europeans from moving to the NBA prematurely.

"We made a proposal once we knew that negotiations [with the players' union] had to take place," Bertomeu said. "We presented a document of elements that could be included in the negotiations between the NBA and the players' union.

"We can't give too many concrete details. But part of the proposal included a formula that included the elements of age, rookie salaries and how the rookie salaries computed into the salary cap. It was designed to create an incentive for the players to stay in Europe."

The goal is to create more stars like Manu Ginobili of Argentina (who didn't leave Italy to join the Spurs until he was 25) and fewer busts like Nikoloz Tskitishvili of Georgia (who never developed in the NBA after being drafted as a 19-year-old in the Italian league in 2002).

Stern was noncommittal. "I don't remember the memo, but I do remember the subject coming up in conversation," he told SI.com. "Obviously, it could only be considered in the context of negotiations with the players' union for a collective bargaining agreement.

"I also made the point to Jordi that many [European] players are now being drafted in the second round, and our teams don't sign them," Stern said. "Therefore, they do stay in Europe to develop."

Stern held out hope that some kind of measure could be enacted.

"Another way to achieve significant movement in this area," he said, "would be to raise the age limit across the board."

Under the former CBA, American players could be drafted essentially one year after their senior year of high school, while international players needed to be at least 19 in the year in which they were drafted. Stern noted that the Euroleague's request must wait on the back burner as NBA owners and players haggle over how to split more than $4 billion in annual revenue.

"I'm aware of the concern," Stern said of Bertomeu's request. "But we have many other pressing issues to resolve first."

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