The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat will both be forced to forfeit their next available second-round pick for violating the rules regarding early free agent discussions, the NBA officially announced Wednesday. The violations stem from the offseason signings of free agents Lonzo Ball (Bulls) and Kyle Lowry (Heat). The league launched an investigation in August to find out whether or not illegal (per the CBA) contact occurred between the Bulls and Ball and the Heat and Lowry. Free agency opened at 6 p.m. ET on Aug. 2, and teams weren't permitted to make any prior contact with representation on behalf of players. Ultimately, the NBA determined that both teams were in violation.
Below is the statement from the league:
The NBA announced today that the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat each violated league rules governing the timing of this season's free agency discussions and that the league has directed that each team's next available second-round draft pick be forfeited. These determinations followed investigations into free agency discussions engaged in by the Bulls with respect to Lonzo Ball and by the Heat with respect to Kyle Lowry.
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The penalty for the two teams is lighter than it could have been, as the organizations could have also potentially been hit with executive suspensions, hefty fines and the loss of other picks. Both teams "fully cooperated" in the investigations, and that was taken into account when punishment was determined, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The discipline seems to be in line with recent previous punishments. During the 2020 offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks were stripped of a 2022 second-round pick after the league found that they had early discussions with Sacramento Kings restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic.
After an investigation that lasted several months, the teams are ready to move on.
"While we disagree, we accept the league's decision. We are moving on with our season," the Heat said in a statement.
The Bulls also released a statement that read: "The Chicago Bulls cooperated completely with the league in its investigation. We are glad this process has concluded and look forward to the rest of our season."