Raptors to cooperate with NBA's tampering investigation involving Lowry sign-and-trade

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) moves the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

The Toronto Raptors say they are aware of the NBA's investigation into the sign-and-trade deal that sent Kyle Lowry to the Miami Heat and are prepared to cooperate, a team spokesperson told Sportsnet.

The investigation, first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, is centred on whether tampering took place in a pair of sign-and-trade deals during free agency. The other deal reportedly under investigation is the one between the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls that sent Lonzo Ball to Chicago.

The NBA, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, is expected to examine both deals for contact between players and teams that may have taken place ahead of the opening of free agency at 6 p.m. ET on Monday.

Further details on the scope of the investigation have not been publicly reported at this time. Per league rules, team executives can have their communications, such as phone records, texts and emails, randomly audited to determine if contact in breach of the rules took place.

The maximum fine for tampering in the NBA is $10 million. Additional punishments can include the suspension of executives, forfeiting draft picks and even the voiding of contracts altogether.

The Heat and Raptors confirmed the sign-and-trade deal that ended Lowry's nine-year run in Toronto on Friday. The 35-year-old six-time all-star guard announced his departure to Miami in a tweet Monday, when the moratorium period ended, and signed a three-year deal worth $85 million.

In exchange for Lowry, Toronto received veteran guard Goran Dragic, whose $19.4 million team option had been guaranteed the Sunday prior to the trade, allowing the Heat to trade him, and young prospect Precious Achiuwa.

The deal between New Orleans and Chicago saw the Pelicans agree to trade Ball, who was a restricted free agent, to the Bulls with a four-year, $85 million contract. Chicago sent Garrett Temple, signed to a new three-year deal worth $15.5 million, and Tomas Satoransky back in return. However that deal has not been finalized as this time and, according to Wojnarowkski, could look different when the league approves it.

The most recent case of an NBA team being punished for tampering was announced in December of 2020, when the league looked into the Milwaukee Bucks' contact with Bogdan Bogdanovic, who was a restricted free agent with the Sacramento Kings at the time.

After its investigation, the NBA determined "that early discussions did in fact occur, constituting conduct detrimental to the NBA," according to the league's release.

When deciding on a punishment, the league said it took into account the Bucks' cooperation with the investigation, the absence of any concrete early agreement to a contract, and the team ultimately not signing Bogdanovic.

Milwaukee, in the end, had its 2022 second-round pick rescinded over the incident.

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