Report: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Lowry Sign-and-Trades Investigated by NBA for Tampering

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 7, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2021, file photo, New Orleans Pelicans' Lonzo Ball brings the ball up during the team's NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas. A person familar with the situation says Ball is heading to Chicago in a sign-and-trade agreement that will also send Bulls guards Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple III to the Pelicans. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday, Aug. 2, because trades cannot becoming official until Friday under NBA rules. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File

The NBA is reportedly investigating the sign-and-trade deals involving Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry for potential tampering, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski added that the "NBA is expected to examine early contact" regarding those trades that may have happened before free agency opened at 6 p.m. ET Monday.

The New Orleans Pelicans sent Ball to the Chicago Bulls as part of a sign-and-trade that netted guard Tomas Satoransky, wing Garrett Temple and a second-round pick. Ball signed a four-year, $85 million contract as part of the move.

Lowry signed a three-year, $90 million contract and was traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Miami Heat for forward Precious Achiuwa and guard Goran Dragic.

Since the Ball and Lowry transactions were reported shortly after free agency began, it led to speculation that early talks were held, in violation of league rules.

Per Wojnarowski, the NBA made several changes to its tampering rules two years ago, including raising the maximum fine to $10 million and allowing for the voiding of contracts, forfeiture of draft picks and suspension of executives.

In December, the NBA took away the Milwaukee Bucks' second-round pick in 2022 because of their sign-and-trade negotiation with the Sacramento Kings involving Bogdan Bogdanovic. The sign-and-trade fell through, and Bogdanovic went to the Atlanta Hawks instead.

Under tampering rules, the NBA can examine the phone call records, texts and emails of executives to determine if regulations were broken.

Assuming the Ball and Lowry deals still go through, they should help the Bulls and Heat in their attempts to vie for Eastern Conference supremacy.

The Bulls have not reached the playoffs since 2017, but with a potential starting lineup of Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic, that drought could end in 2021-22.

Meanwhile, the Heat now have a Big Three of Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo and are just over one year removed from a trip to the NBA Finals, meaning they could once again be a top contender next season.