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NBA Investigating Possible Tampering Violations by the Chicago Bulls in Lonzo Ball Deal

The Chicago Bulls are reportedly being investigated by the NBA for tampering surrounding the Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade.
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By all accounts, the Chicago Bulls have had a rock solid free agency. They acquired DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs. They signed Alex Caruso and Tony Bradley, and they re-signed Javonte Green. However, the biggest highlight seems to be the acquisition of point guard Lonzo Ball in a sign-and-trade deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. The deal was announced immediately when free agency officially opened at 5:00 p.m. CDT on Monday, August 2. Now, it seems, the NBA has taken notice of just how quickly that deal came together. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA has launched an investigation into possible tampering by the Chicago Bulls.

What This Means

According to league rules, teams in the NBA cannot negotiate with free agents until free agency officially opens. As such, it is hard to imagine the clock hitting 5:00, the Bulls working out a deal with Lonzo Ball and his agent, then Chicago and New Orleans coming to terms on the sign-and-trade before the deal was announced at 5:01. Of course, a deal like this is hardly an anomaly in the NBA. Ball's deal was one of several announced right away when free agency started. Still, there are technically rules that forbid the circumstances that likely surround the sign-and-trade deal coming together so quickly.

According to the NBA's constitution, no owner, general manager, coach, scout, or player can try to convince a player on another team to join their own team before free agency kicks off. The penalty for a team caught doing so can be up to $10 million, though the fines are rarely that steep. The largest sanction in NBA history occurred in 2017 when the NBA fined the Los Angeles Lakers $500,000 due to communication between the Lakers and Paul George's representatives. George was still under contract with the Indiana Pacers at the time.

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All things considered, it will be interesting to see the results of the NBA's investigation. It may seem quite clear the Bulls absolutely engaged with Ball and his representatives before free agency started. Still, they're still innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, if Chicago is found guilty, it will be interesting to see what the NBA imposes. Stick with us at On Tap Sports Net for updates and all your Bulls needs.