The NBA is notorious for its strict anti-tampering policies, and that could get at least two teams in trouble for moves made this offseason.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the league has launched an investigation into the Chicago Bulls’ sign-and-trade acquisition of Lonzo Ball, as well as the Miami Heat’s sign-and-trade for Kyle Lowry, over possible tampering. The league wishes to look into whether there was contact prior to 6 p.m. ET on Monday, as such contact would have been prohibited prior to that time.
It’s not clear what punishment the teams involved might face if they are found to have tampered with Ball and Lowry. Commissioner Adam Silver has the power to levy substantial fines and strip teams of draft picks for tampering, which can be thoroughly investigated thanks to a controversial set of rules that came into force in 2019. Silver could even void the deals if he feels that is appropriate.
Free agent tampering has always been an iffy proposition in the NBA. Numerous deals were reported as agreed to within minutes of free agency’s opening, and it certainly seems unlikely that coveted free agents came to an agreement with teams that quickly unless there was some prior legwork done. Lowry, for instance, had long been linked with the Heat before the deal got done. It’s simply a matter of how aggressively the NBA wants to combat it.