Report: NBA tampering investigation into Heat, Bulls nearing conclusion

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Last offseason, the Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade to the Bulls from the Pelicans, and the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade to the Heat from the Raptors, happened suspiciously quickly after the trade window opened. Seemingly far too fast for a complex sign-and-trades to be pulled together… unless the sides had talked before the window opened to set up the parameters of the deal.

Which would be tampering under the NBA’s archaic rules. The NBA opened an investigation into potential tampering in those cases, an investigation has been going on since August. However, it is earning an end, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The NBA has conducted numerous interviews with team executives and player agents and has gathered electronic messaging of front-office executives of four teams — Chicago, New Orleans, Miami and Toronto — over the past three months, sources said. The league could reveal its findings and any penalties in the near future.

Tampering in the NBA isn’t a few discrete conversations and drops of information being shared. It’s a flood. Everyone knows it. Every team is involved. There are no clean hands here, just the occasional group who feels wronged and complains. The NBA laid out plans for a crackdown on tampering a couple of years ago, although that has not changed what is going on.

Knowing these four teams tampered and proving it are two very different things. The league needs a smoking gun. They reportedly have looked at phone records and emails from the four teams involved, but we don’t yet know what, if anything, they found.

Even if the league can prove tampering, they can’t go back in time and void the trades — these teams have played games with the players acquired in those deals. Most likely, if there is anything, there will be fines for teams and possibly a loss of draft picks. In theory, front office personnel can be suspended as well, but don’t bet on it.

Whatever happens, when the findings and potential punishments are released will make headlines.

It will change little, if anything. Teams still will tamper. The trick is not getting caught, and teams will learn from this and not leak their complex sign-and-trades so quickly.