At the beginning of August, the NBA launched investigations into two separate sign-and-trade deals; one that sent Lonzo Ball from the Pelicans to the Bulls, and a second that sent Kyle Lowry from the Raptors to the Heat.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, those investigations into potential tampering or gun-jumping are nearing a conclusion, and rulings could be imminent.
It’s no secret that teams and agents begin discussing free agent deals prior to the officially listed starting time and date, but both of these cases are a little more blatant in that Lowry was reportedly on the move a few hours before the window opened, and Ball’s deal with Chicago was reported literally the minute free agency opened.
Sign-and-trades typically receive even more scrutiny since they’re more complex and typically require more time to complete than a typical free agent negotiation.
Last year, for instance, an alleged sign-and-trade agreement involving the Bucks, Kings, and Bogdan Bogdanovic was reported several days before free agency officially began. The league ended up taking away Milwaukee’s 2022 second-round pick after investigating that situation, while Bogdanovic – who claimed he never agreed to terms with the Bucks – landed in Atlanta instead.
Woj relays that the NBA took into consideration that Bogdanovic ultimately didn’t end up in Milwaukee in that situation, so the penalties could be steeper for these two investigations, depending on the league’s findings.
As Woj notes, the NBA increased tampering penalties a couple of years ago, giving the league the power to fine teams for up to $10MM, suspend executives, take away draft picks, or even void deals altogether if proof of tampering is found. Voiding the contracts is considered extremely unlikely, but all of the other options could be on the table.