Two prominent sign-and-trade deals are under investigation by the NBA for possible tampering.
ESPN reported on Saturday that the league is looking into the Bulls’ deal for Lonzo Ball from the Pelicans, plus the Heat’s move for Kyle Lowry, to find out if illegal contact was made between the teams and players before free agency officially opened at 6 p.m. ET on Monday.
The Bulls had agreed to a deal with the Pelicans where Ball was signed to a four-year, $85 million deal and sent to Chicago for Garrett Temple and Tomas Satoransky. Temple signed to a new three-year, $15 million deal with the Pelicans. Similarly, the Heat acquired Lowry from the Raptors and signed him to a three-year, $85 million deal and dealt Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa to Toronto.
Per ESPN’s report, the Ball trade to Chicago still needs to be finalized by the league office and could shape up to be a different deal.
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Two years ago, the NBA amped up the penalties for tampering. Teams can face up to a $10 million fine for tampering, $6 million for improper deals and $5 million for comments trying to entice players on another team, according to the NBA. In addition, the NBA can void contracts, take away draft picks and suspend executives. Commissioner Adam Silver also has the authority to take cell phones, tablets and other devices for an investigation.
In the 2019 release, Silver said the NBA Board of Governors said the league needed to do a “better job enforcing the rules that are already on your books.”
“There was a strong view of every single person in the room that we need to ensure that we’re creating a culture of compliance in this league,” Silver said. “Our teams want to know that they’re competing on a level playing field, and frankly don’t want to feel disadvantaged if they are adhering to our existing rules.”
If the investigation concludes that tampering in these deals took place, they would be just the latest to occur in the past year. An investigation into the Bucks found that the team was in violation of league rules regarding conversations it had with Bogdan Bogdanovic in 2020 about a possible sign-and-trade of the Kings restricted free agent, according to ESPN’s report. The punishment handed down was the loss of a 2022 second-round pick since the Bucks did not sign Bogdanovic.
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