By most accounts, the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat got off with a proverbial slap on the risk after running afoul of the NBA’s tampering policy.
The NBA launched an investigation that deemed the Bulls and Heat guilty of tampering in their successful pursuits of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, respectively. The punishment for both teams was the forfeiture of their next available second-round picks.
If you’re primarily an NFL or MLB fan, this may sound like a stiffer penalty. However, in the NBA, second-round picks don’t hold as much value–although there have been a rather long list of stars and even Hall-of-Famers who have emerged from the final round of the draft.
Still, the percentage of second-round picks that actually evolve into solid contributors is low. Perhaps that’s why the response from many in the NBA’s stratosphere was critical.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report captured several quotes from members of NBA front offices as well as player agents. Fischer shared the following anonymous takes:
One assistant general manager said: “It won’t discourage teams at all.”
One veteran executive said: “It’s an interesting precedent to set. You have this one and the Milwaukee one. I wouldn’t think teams would be scared off if it’s a big transaction, for a big player, especially if you plan to be a championship-contending team.”
One veteran agent said: “It [the punishment] was as toothless as a defanged animal.”
That’s pretty toothless, folks.
What’s the Solution to the Tampering Situation?
If we’re being honest, completely policing the tampering activities in the NBA, or any sports league is almost impossible. The league cannot police the phone calls made and in-person conversations had between players, coaches and front office people.
At the end of the day, people will gather, discuss and strategize to do what’s best for them, and many of these conversations will take place before and after any proposed deadline.
Because of this and the impractical concept of policing the matter, it might be best to do away with the penalties completely. By not allowing teams and players to openly recruit and negotiate, the league isn’t really preventing or even discouraging players and teams from finding ways to get deals and arrangements done.
The league and sports has evolved, and in many ways, tampering rules are an example of archaic concepts and disingenuous efforts to maintain fairness.
Whose Having the Better Year: Ball or Lowry?
The two players at the center of the sign-and-trade deals are Ball and Lowry and both have played an instrumental role in their team’s success so far this season.
Which one is having the better year?
Ball is averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He’s also been one of the NBA’s most accurate three-point shooters knocking down 43% of his long-range attempts. Ball has played at an NBA-All-Defensive-Team level on that end of the floor while helping to ignite Chicago’s transition game with his head-up-the-floor approach on offense. Needless to say, Chicago is very happy with their starting point guard.
Lowry has been no slouch himself. He’s averaging 12.9 points, 7.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. Lowry has been predictably solid on defense and while he has struggled to connect from three as frequently as Ball (33%), he has made big shots. That includes two dagger threes against Ball and the Bulls on November 27 in Miami’s 107-104 win in Chicago.
At this point, neither seems to have an edge and both Miami and Chicago are thrilled with their acquisitions.
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