The messy Bogdan Bogdanovic saga has taken another turn. According to The New York Times' Marc Stein, the NBA has opened an investigation into the proposed sign-and-trade agreement that would have sent Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings to the Milwaukee Bucks. Presumably, they are investigating the possibility that the Bucks committed a tampering violation by speaking to Bogdanovic before they were legally allowed to. Bogdanovic, a restricted free agent, cannot negotiate with other teams until Friday at 6 p.m. ET. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Monday that Bogdanovic would be joining the Bucks through a sign-and-trade.
For the time being, the Bogdanovic trade appears to be off. The Bucks waived Ersan Ilyasova Friday, and his $7 million salary was a key component of the proposed deal. Bogdanovic is expected to enter restricted free agency on Friday, and while the Bucks could still try to find a way to salvage the deal then, that appears unlikely given their salary structure and this investigation.
Neither the Bucks nor the Kings said anything officially about the Bogdanovic trade. Whether an opposing team reported a possible tampering violation before the trade or if the league is basing the investigation off of Wojnarowski's premature report is not yet known. Somewhat similar moves in the past have been made without any tampering violations found to have been made. In 2018, for instance, Chris Paul was slated to be a free agent, but instead opted into the final year of his contract and was dealt to the Houston Rockets. Reporting later indicated that Paul was recruited to the Rockets by James Harden, but common sense at the time should have dictated tampering. How could Paul have known the Rockets were interested in trading for him when he opted in otherwise?
Tampering is a somewhat frequent occurrence in the NBA, but investigating it fully is nearly impossible. Even in this instance, proving that the Bucks contacted Bogdanovic would be extremely difficult. The Bucks and Kings could easily argue that they are not responsible for Wojnarowski's reporting, and that it may have been false, or that they merely agreed to the framework of a trade that would have been contingent upon negotiations that hadn't yet taken place between the Bucks and Kings. There probably isn't a smoking gun here. It seems highly unlikely that the Bucks would have communicated with Bogdanovic in writing, so finding definitive wrongdoing would seem to be nearly impossible.
But on paper, the mere fact that this was reported days before free agency began certainly gives the appearance of tampering, and a league that is very conscious of the optics involved in tampering needs to cover its bases. These investigations tend not to yield much more than an occasional fine. But as the Bucks seek to pick up the pieces and salvage their offseason after seemingly losing out on Bogdanovic, this cloud hanging over their head is less than ideal as they attempt to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a contract extension.