August 07, (THEWILL) – An investigation has been initiated by the National Basketball Association (NBA) into the sign-and-trade deals involving Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry for what they alleged could be illicit tampering that contravenes the rules of the process.
What it implies is that the NBA with scrutinise any forms of early contact made towards the pair of players for those trades that may have taken place before free agency period actually opened at 11pm on Monday.
The movement in the trades saw the New Orleans Pelicans send Ball to the Chicago Bulls as part of a sign-and-trade that brought guard Tomas Satoransky, wing Garrett Temple and a second-round pick for the Pelicans.
In the details of the deal, Ball signed a four-year, $85 million contract as part of the move while in the other move under investigation, Lowry signed a three-year, $90 million contract and was traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Miami Heat for the guard Goran Dragic and Nigerian forward Precious Achiuwa.
However, as both the Ball and Lowry transactions were reported shortly after free agency began, it led to speculation that early talks must have held to make it happen so swiftly and that is directly in violation of league rules as they apply to these transactions.
The tampering rules were altered by the NBA two years ago with changes that included raising the maximum fine for contravening the rules to $10 million while allowing for the voiding of contracts, forfeiture of draft picks and suspension of executives for offending teams to act as deterrence.
As an example, last December, the NBA took away the Milwaukee Bucks’ second-round pick in 2022 in relation to a sign-and-trade negotiation with the Sacramento Kings involving Bogdan Bogdanovic.
As a result of those actions, the sign-and-trade fell through and Bogdanovic went to the Atlanta Hawks instead, to the detriment of the Bucks and they still have one extra year before they can get any more second-round picks.
In an investigation such as has begun for the deals involving Ball and Lowry, the rules allow the league the right to examine the phone call records, texts and emails of executives to determine if any regulations were broken in the period under investigation.
The trades were key in the attempts of the Bulls and Heat to vie for Eastern Conference supremacy when the next campaign resumes. Since 2017, the Bulls have not reached the playoffs something a potential starting lineup of Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic can change.
Also by bringing Lowry into the Heat squad, they can boast of having a “Big Three” of Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo giving them a shot at contending once again for the top of their division in the next campaign.
Yet, all that will depend on the outcome of the NBA findings, which could be good news for the two teams if nothing is amiss.