Remember when the Bucks announced they got Bogdan Bodanović, and then the NBA pulled the plug on that deal due to tampering? People in Milwaukee do. For a while, it looked like the fact that the deal blew up would lead to Giannis leaving the franchise. So they are understandably mad that the Bulls and Heat got a slap on the wrist for the same crime.
Second-round pick and that's it?
Two signings this offseason raised everyone’s eyebrow. Lonzo to Chicago was a matter of public knowledge for a while, and they didn’t try to hide it. The contract was announced soon after the free agency bell rang, and the NBA announced they would investigate if there was tampering.
Lowry to Miami was a bit less locked down, but we all knew the point guard was Miami’s to lose. That deal also got done impressively fast, so the NBA added it on the “to-do” list for suspicion of tampering. After a long and detailed investigation, we found out the verdict.
The NBA pointed out the fact both teams fully cooperated with the investigation was taken into consideration when making the final decision on the penalty. Still - a second-round pick? I can already see other GMs thinking, “I better not tamper or we might lose our 47th pick next year.” The best part is that since Miami and Chicago have traded away most of their second-rounders, the penalty won’t impact either team’s competitive chances for years to come.
Milwaukee won’t be happy
The pivotal moment here is that both players are with the teams that tampered, and that’s not going to change. Bucks fans can’t be happy with such an outcome, especially when they see Bogdan Bogdanović draining threes in a Hawks jersey. If this is adequate penalty, why didn’t they allow for Bogdanović to sign in Milwaukee and then give them a second-rounder?
A Reddit user summed up what most fans are thinking: “The punishment is entirely Milwaukee’s fault for not being located in NY, LA, Chicago or Miami.” This will just add more fuel to the small market vs. big market fire. The fact the Bucks won the title last year will make this bitter pill go down a bit easier, but the double standards won’t be forgotten.
Yet again, we see the NBA is more about PR than substance when it comes to issues like these. The only difference between the cases is that a lot more dust was raised about the Bogdanović sign-and-trade, and the target was a small market team.
Good ownership and management are key to long-term success - they impact your team’s chances a lot more than the size of the market. But the least the NBA could do is to apply the same rules for all teams, regardless of whether something is trending or not.