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The NBA’s age limit probably isn’t changing anytime soon

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DeShawn Stevenson plays for the Utah Jazz Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2000.

DeShawn Stevenson plays an NBA game for the Utah Jazz Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2000. He was drafted by Utah when he was 19 years old.

Chuck Wing, Deseret News

For quite a few years now, there has been basically an assumption that the NBA would get rid of the rule that says players have to be 19 years old and a year removed from high school to enter the league’s annual draft.

Last month, however, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there were a lot of hurdles to work through to make the change. Then on Wednesday, Wojnarowski’s ESPN colleague Jonathan Givony wrote, while attending an elite high school camp held by Team USA last weekend, that indications are a change won’t happen anytime soon.

Givony cited a number of factors that led to this conclusion. Most notably, very few NBA teams sent high-level executives to scout the event, and some didn’t send anyone at all.

Additionally, his conversations with a variety of stakeholders indicated to him that no progress has been made on a change.

Why might the NBA age limit not change anytime soon?

Givony wrote that one hurdle is player agents don’t want to guarantee full player participation in the annual draft combine (currently, prospects can pick and choose what parts of the combine they participate in), nor do they want to have to give prospect medical information to all 30 teams.

Meanwhile, Givony wrote, the players association doesn’t want to have to guarantee that roster spots could be taken from older players and given to younger ones.

Lastly, team executives aren’t thrilled by the idea of heavily scouting high school games again, something that used to be commonplace but hasn’t been done in years.

When could the NBA’s age limit change?

According to Givony, NBA commissioner Adam Silver “is the clear-cut driving force” behind wanting the age limit changed, and the issue could be a big one as the league and players association negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (the current one expires in 2024).

Givony wrote that if Silver pushes the idea through in 2024 (or it is more mutually agreed upon in CBA talks), it could take effect for the 2026 draft.

How does this affect the Utah Jazz?

The Utah Jazz famously received a huge haul of future draft picks over the summer as they traded Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Assuming the age limit is changed beginning for the 2026 draft, here’s how many first-round picks they’ll have in the ensuing four years:

2026: Own, and swaps with both the Timberwolves and the Cavaliers.

2027: Own, unprotected picks from both the Timberwolves and the Cavaliers.

2028: Own, swap with the Cavaliers.

2029: Own, unprotected pick from the Cavaliers, top five protected pick from the Timberwolves.