The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls will forfeit their next available second-round picks, the NBA announced Wednesday, after an investigation centred on the teams’ free-agent acquisitions of Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball found the deals violated the league’s anti-tampering policies.
The NBA opened the investigations in early August, intending to determine whether the Bulls’ acquisition of Ball from the Pelicans or the Heat’s trade for Lowry with the Raptors, broke league rules. The probe concluded the teams had conversations with representatives for the players before Aug. 2, the official opening of free agency, that were a breach of league policy.
Both teams “fully cooperated with the investigations,” according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, which factored into the penalties.
“While we disagree, we accept the league’s decision,” the Heat said in a release posted to Twitter. “We are moving on with our season.”
The Bulls released a statement as well, echoing the sentiment: “We are glad this process has concluded and look forward to the rest of our season.”
The Raptors signed Lowry to a three-year, $85-million contract before agreeing to trade him to the Heat for Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa. The Heat guaranteed Dragic’s $19.4 million team option before the trade. The Pelicans signed Ball to a four-year, $80-million contract before trading him to the Bulls for Garrett Temple and Tomas Satoransky. Temple signed a three-year, $15.5-million contract with Chicago before the trade.
The NBA introduced more strict penalties for tampering cases in 2019. Those penalties could include fines up to $10 million for teams, possible suspension of team executives, draft pick forfeitures and voiding of the contracts. Suspensions further than a fine or loss of picks were not expected in this case.