The NBA has opened up investigations into possible tampering violations involving two sign-and-trade deals completed in free agency, Chicago‘s acquisition of New Orleans‘s Lonzo Ball and Miami‘s acquisition of Toronto‘s Kyle Lowry, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
The NBA’s probe will examine illegal contact among teams and players ahead of the opening of free agency on Monday at 6 p.m. ET, sources told ESPN. Team executives, players agents and players have been notified of the opening of the league office’s investigations, sources said.
The NBA instituted more stringent penalties in these cases in 2019, including raising the maximum fine for teams to $10 million and the possibility of suspending team executives, forfeiting draft picks and even the voiding of contracts. Team executives can also have their communications — such as telephone records, texts and emails — randomly audited.
Sign-and-trade arrangements are more complicated and time-consuming than typical free-agent player signings, often needing a greater level of discussion and negotiation to complete.
New Orleans agreed to trade Ball, a restricted free agent, to Chicago on a four-year, $85 million contract for Garrett Temple on a new three-year, $15.5 million contract and guard Tomas Satoransky. That deal has yet to be finalized with the league office and could look different in its final form, sources said.
Miami negotiated a three-year, $85 million deal with Lowry in the sign-and-trade that sent guard Goran Dragic and forward Precious Achiuwa to the Raptors. The Heat guaranteed Dragic’s $19.4 million team option on Sunday, which allowed them to use him in the sign-and-trade deal.
The Milwaukee Bucks lost a 2022 second-round pick for tampering charges with Sacramento Kings restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic in 2021. With the penalty, the NBA took into consideration that the Bucks did not ultimately sign Bogdanovic — the Atlanta Hawks did.