Sources: NBA's tampering probe into Lonzo Ball, Kyle Lowry acquisitions in advanced stages

Adrian Wojnarowski states that the NBA is at an "advanced stage" of a tampering probe into the Heat or Bulls' sign-and-trades with Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry. (1:06)
Sources told ESPN that the NBA's investigation into possible pre-free agency tampering was focused on the sign and trade acquisitions of Lonzo Ball in Chicago and Kyle Lowry in Miami.

Sources said that the NBA conducted many interviews with player agents and team executives. They also collected electronic messages from four front office executives -- Chicago, New Orleans and Miami -- over three months. In the near future, the league may release its findings and any penalities.

ESPN reported on August 7, about the league's investigation into illegal contact and negotiation between teams and agents. This was before the opening of free agency, August 2, at 6 p.m. ET.

In 2019, the NBA imposed more severe penalties for these cases, including a $10 million maximum fine for teams and the possibility of team executives being suspended and draft pick forfeiture. If punishment is given, the most likely outcome is for the contracts to be void.

Sign-and trade arrangements can be more complex and time-consuming that typical free agent signings. They often require more discussion and negotiation time.

New Orleans offered to trade Ball, a restricted-free agent, to Chicago for a four year, $80m contract for Garrett Temple and a three-year contract worth $15.5 million for guard Tomas Satoransky. Miami reached a $85 million, three-year deal with Lowry as part of the sign-and trade that sent guard Goran Draic and forward Precious Auchiuwa to Toronto.

Dragic was guaranteed a $19.4 million team option by the Heat on Sunday. This allowed them to use Dragic in the deal-and-trade.

The Milwaukee Bucks lost their 2022 second-round selection for violating the terms of Bogdan Bogdanovic, a Sacramento restricted free agent. He was due to be released in 2021. The NBA also took into account that Bogdanovic was not signed by the Bucks, as he did not end up signing with the Atlanta Hawks.