Heat’s Tampering Investigation: NBA Commish Provides Major Update

Adam Silver, Kyle Lowry

Getty/@miamiheat Instagram NBA commissioner Adam Silver (L) provides an update on the tampering investigation involving Miami Heat's sign-and-trade deal for Kyle Lowry (R).

The champagne was still cold from celebrating Kyle Lowry taking his talents to South Beach when the NBA announced they were investigating the Miami Heat for possibly tampering with the six-time All-Star’s sign-and-trade deal, a situation that could have disastrous repercussions.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne were the to first break the news back in early August that the Heat were under investigation. ESPN analyst and former Nets executive Bobby Marks told the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang, “There was a team that complained, and now it’s the league’s job to investigate it.”

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After months of radio silence on the matter, NBA commissioner Adam Silver finally revealed an update on the investigation. “NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the tampering investigations into sign-and-trades completed by Miami (Kyle Lowry) and Chicago (Lonzo Ball) are “ongoing,” Marc Stein tweeted on October 18.

Learning the NBA is still in midst of their investigation two and a half months after the initial report is not especially comforting. Of course, it could mean they’ve found nothing incriminating and are working to cover all their bases to make sure there’s no appearling the decision. Or maybe, the NBA did discover some evidence of tampering and need more time to figure out the right punishment in order to set a precedence in the future.

There are numerous reasons as to why the investigation is taking so long, but with only three days to go before the Heat’s season opener on October 21, hopefully, a final decision will be announced sooner than later.

Suspicions Arose Due to How Quickly the Sign-and-Trade Deal was Announced

While the Heat were long considered the frontrunners to sign Lowry, suspicion of tampering arose when the 35-year-old point guard confirmed on Twitter that he was heading to Miami at 6:38 p.m. Eastern time, just 38 minutes after the official start of free agency, 6 p.m. Eastern time on August 2.

The NBA is investigating whether or not the Heat contacted Lowry and/or his agent regarding a potential contract before 6 p.m. on Monday. The league is also concerned about the Chicago Bulls’ acquisition of Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans, which was announced at 6:01 p.m.

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri broke his silence on the NBA’s investigation in mid-August. TSN reporter Josh Lewenberg tweeted, “Ujiri, asked about NBA tampering investigation: ‘It’s incredible how every NBA team has a deal done by 6:02. All I know is I gave up my phone for investigation. Other than that, I have no comment. That’s my comment.'”

If Found the Heat Are Found Guilty, What Kind of Punishment Will They Face?

Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra

GettyMiami Heat president Pat Riley, left, and head coach Erik Spoelstra.

If the league is successful in proving tampering took place, the sign-and-trade could be overturned. Chiang and Barry Jackson reported, “If the NBA nullified the Lowry deal, [Goran] Dragic and [Precious] Achiuwa potentially could be returned to the Heat and Miami would not have cap space to improve the roster other than through trades and a $3.6 million bi-annual exception.

“The Heat’s 2023 and 2025 first-round picks are owned by Oklahoma City, so stripping the Heat of draft picks could further deplete Miami’s limited remaining trade assets,” Jackson noted.

However, Marks doesn’t believe the punishment will be that harsh. “I would say highly, highly unlikely that the trade will be voided and that Kyle is a free agent all of a sudden,” he told Chiang. “I think what will happen is if they’re found guilty, there will be some financial penalty and draft picks will be lost here. That’s kind of how I see it.”

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