ESPN’s Chad Ford is reporting the following :

The NBA and its players’ association are close to agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement that would institute a new 19-year-old age limit, reduce contract lengths and raise the salary cap, sources close to both negotiating committees said Monday night.

The potential agreement would run for six years and would allow the two sides to avoid a July 1 lockout.

A 19-year-old age limit would be implemented. Players who are not 19 by draft night would be ineligible to declare. Under current rules, American players are eligible for the draft the year their high school class graduates. Foreign players must be 18 by draft night. The new proposed age limit would bar most, but not all (Amare Stoudemire was already 19 when he was drafted), high school players from entering the draft.

¢ Contract lengths would be reduced by one year. Currently, players can sign a fully guaranteed contract for a maximum of seven years if they re-sign with their current team. Players signing with a new team in free agency can sign a six-year deal. Under the new proposal, maxiumum contract lengths would shorten to five years for players signing with new teams and six years for players re-signing with their current team.

¢ Raises in contracts would be reduced. Under the current CBA, players are allowed maximum raises of 12.5 percent per year if they re-sign with their current team and 10 percent if they sign with a different team in free agency. Under the new proposal, raises would be reduced to 10 percent if a player re-signs with his current team and 8 percent if they sign with a different team in free agency.

¢ Teams would pick up an extra option year on rookie contracts. Currently, first-round picks are tied into a league salary scale. When a first-round pick signs a contract, the first three years are guaranteed, with a team option for the fourth year. Players are paid a set amount based on where they were selected in the draft. Under the new proposed rules, first-round picks would get the first two years of their contract guaranteed. The third and fourth years of the contract would be team options.

OK, 18 year olds are old enough to be shot by their own troops in Afghanistan (or pose for Richard Kern), but not old enough to star in the NBA.