The NBA has said that it would punish “tampering” more severely and be sticklers about the matter.
Problem is, the league often picks and chooses when it wants to deem certain activity involved with acquiring platers unethical or against the integrity of the game.
Now that free agency has officially begun, teams across the NBA are trying to reconstruct their rosters to compete for championships. Two deals in particular – Kyle Lowery to the Miami Heat and Lonzo Ball to the Chicago Bulls – are under investigation and may face some repercussions from the league.
The Miami Heat completed their trade for Lowry on Aug. 6th, which is the first day allowed to do so under league rule. Adrian Wojnarowski stated on August 1st, that Miami had put themselves in position to obtain Kyle Lowry.
Which isn’t out of the ordinary because that’s what guys like Woj do. They built a career on beign ahead of the news and giving their oprinions on trade possibilities.
However, the 2021 NBA free agency period offically opened up on Aug. 2 at 6:00 p.m. ET. That’s when teams could begin negotiating with players. So any business done prior to Aug. 2 could be in violation of NBA rules.
Lowry then joined the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade agreement with the Toronto Raptors. The NBA champion signed a three-year, $85-million contract in a deal that involved Heat players Goran Dragic and Precious Achuiwa.
As the Miami Heat create salary cap space, Toronto free agent guard Kyle Lowry remains a firm target in free agency, sources tell ESPN. Miami has more levers to pull to create space to sign Lowry outright — or can still endeavor to work a sign-and-trade with the Raptors.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 1, 2021
Lonzo Ball departed the New Orleans Pelicans for the Chicago Bulls in a similar deal involving Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, and a second-round pick.
Ball then signed a four-year, $85-million agreement with the Bulls.
New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball is landing on a four-year, $85 million contract with Chicago Bulls in a sign-and-trade agreement, his agent and @KlutchSports CEO Rich Paul tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 2, 2021
The focal point regarding both investigations is whether the Heat and Pelicans contacted Lowry and Ball on potential contract agreements before it was permitted to begin at 6 p.m. on that Monday.
This isn’t the first-time tampering has been an issue in the NBA.
Last October, the Sacramento Kings attempted to sign-and-trade Bogan Bogdanovic to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Trade talks subsided when the NBA began investigating if the Bucks had contact with Bogdanovic and his agent before the official start of free agency. The Bucks then decided not to pursue the trade, but were forced by the NBA to give up a 2022 second-round draft pick and were fined $50,000.
Additionally – The Los Angeles Lakers received a $500,000 fine in 2017 after general manager Rob Pelinka was found engaging in conversations with Paul George’s agent while he was still under contract with the Indiana Pacers. It was the largest fine in league history.
People weren’t happy with the way the Lakers went about getting Anthony Davis either. AD’s agent Rich Paul flat out made a trade request in the middle of a contract, which resulted in a $50,000 fine for Davis due to Paul talking publicy.
So the lines between tampering and executing a plan is always a bit blurry and depends on what you believe.
The maximum fine for tampering is $10 million. But if you get your guy the fines are wel worth it.
Chicago and New Orleans could face similar penalties.