Heat and Bulls will forfeit second-round picks for tampering with Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball

Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors

The NBA will make the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls forfeit second-round draft picks as penalty for tampering in Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry deals.

The long-awaited verdict for the tampering trade charges involving Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry has finally been released.

After a four-month investigation, the NBA has determined that the offending teams, the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat, will forfeit their next-available second-round draft picks based on the investigation’s findings, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls forfeit second-round draft picks after NBA probe findings in Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry deals

Although rarely enforced, the NBA has strict rules on tampering, which is “when a player or team directly or indirectly entices, induces or persuades anybody who is under contract with another team in order to negotiate for their services.” The league imposed new tampering penalties in 2019, which NBA commissioner Adam Silver clarified would be utilized instead of “turning a blind eye” as in years past.

Tampering could be as simple as commentary, evidenced when Draymond Green was fined $50,000 for saying Devin Booker is too good to remain with the Phoenix Suns. Ironically, the Suns made the NBA Finals later that season.

The first major tampering offense by a team since 2019 was committed by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020 when they were dealing with restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanović. The Bucks forfeited a 2022 second-round pick, and Bogdanović eventually opted to sign with the Atlanta Hawks. The case demonstrated the seriousness of the new restrictions, but it didn’t prevent the Bulls and Heat from engaging in tampering earlier this year.

What raised red flags was the swiftness with which the complex sign-and-trade deals were conducted between the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls and the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat, respectively. Usually, such deals can take weeks or even months to negotiate and iron out, but these deals were finalized within hours. Signing players to massive contracts, then trading them immediately, allows teams to circumvent salary cap restrictions while accumulating expensive talent.

The Pelicans signed Ball for four years and $85 million, then traded him to Chicago. The Bulls then signed Garrett Temple to a three-year, $15.5 million deal, making the deal a two-way sign-and-trade. New Orleans also nabbed Tomáš Satoranský, a 2024 second-round pick and a little cap space.

The Heat exercised their $19.5 million option for Goran Dragić two days before the negotiating period. Then, Dragić was sent to the Raptors, along with Precious Achiuwa. Toronto signed Lowry to a three-year, $85 million pact before sending him to Miami.

While losing a second-round pick is not ideal, the offending teams each faced a maximum penalty of $10 million dollars. For Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, losing a second-round pick might be worth the risk — but the next team could be made an example of and experience that maximum fine.

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