Bulls to forfeit a 2nd-round pick as punishment following investigation into early contact in acquisition of Lonzo Ball

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(670 The Score) The NBA has docked the Bulls a second-round pick following an investigation into early contact regarding Chicago’s addition of guard Lonzo Ball in free agency last summer.

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The Bulls will forfeit their next available second-round pick, the NBA said Wednesday. The Bulls don’t currently control a second-round pick until 2026 because of previous trades, so the forfeiture might not come for some time. The Bulls are owed a second-round pick from the Nuggets in 2023, though there are protections on that pick that could cause it to not be conveyed.

All told, the NBA levied rather light punishment at the Bulls given the options available. The league could’ve fined the franchise up to $10 million, docked them a higher draft pick and/or suspended executives.

“The Chicago Bulls cooperated completely with the league in its investigation,” the Bulls said in a statement. “We are glad this process has concluded and look forward to the rest of our season.”

The Bulls acquired Ball in a sign-and-trade with the Pelicans, and news of the deal broke mere minutes into free agency. That raised a red flag because sign-and-trades are inherently complicated deals with many moving parts, leading the league to open a probe into illegal early discussions. The NBA didn’t release details on what it found in its investigation. The Bulls and Pelicans had previously engaged in trade talks surrounding Ball last March.

Ball joined the Bulls on a four-year deal worth up to $85 million. Ball is averaging 12.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists while being a key figure in the team’s strong 14-8 start.

On Wednesday, the NBA also docked the Heat a second-round pick following a probe into early contact in their acquisition of guard Kyle Lowry.

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.