NBA COVID fallout: Pacers’ Lance Stephenson on his second 10-day, Nuggets still interested in DeMarcus Cousins
In response to the omicron variant of COVID-19, the NBA and the players union agreed to new rules aimed at helping teams field fuller rosters and helping the league avoid postponements. Teams are permitted to sign one replacement player for each player who tests positive for COVID-19, and teams are required to sign at least one replacement player if two test positive, at least two replacement players if three test positive and at least three if four or more test positive, per ESPN. (For a game to be played, both teams must have eight available players.)
The new rules, which will be in effect until Jan. 19, stipulate that replacement players’ salaries will not count toward the salary cap or luxury tax. When a team has multiple COVID cases on its roster and must sign a replacement, the player must be available by the beginning of its next game.
More than 100 players have signed 10-day contracts, thanks to this new hardship allowance. Isaiah Thomas signed 10-days with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, but spent most of the second stint in health and safety protocols. Lance Stephenson, briefly Thomas’ teammate with the Grand Rapids Gold, reunited with the Indiana Pacers after spending 10 days with the Atlanta Hawks. Stephenson is on his second 10-day, and he is expected to stick around for the rest of the season, per Marc Stein.
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Another unlikely reunion: Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat. The two-time champion took his talents back to South Beach after globetrotting from Italy to Greece to Puerto Rico. Chalmers was called up from — you guessed it! — Grand Rapids, but his 10-day contract has expired. Chalmers has still not logged an NBA minute since 2018, when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies.
After being waived by the Milwaukee Bucks, DeMarcus Cousins has been reportedly close to signing a 10-day contract with the Denver Nuggets for a while now. Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who coached Cousins in Sacramento, said Sunday that, if it happens, it would be a “tremendous opportunity to reconnect with him.” Cousins remains a free agent, but Denver is still interested in signing him as of Thursday, per the Denver Post.
While most of these emergency signings are just that, in a few cases they’ve led to something bigger. Veteran Bismack Biyombo recently signed a rest-of-season contract with the Phoenix Suns after finishing his 10-day, and Charlie Brown Jr. (Philadelphia 76ers), Theo Pinson (Dallas Mavericks), Brandon Goodwin (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Davon Reed (Denver Nuggets) turned their 10-days into two-ways. Previously, Alfonzo McKinnie played his way into a standard contract with the Chicago Bulls and Quinndary Weatherspoon earned a two-way contract with the Golden State Warriors.
As of Jan. 5, conventional 10-day contracts — i.e. ones that do not require the hardship allowance — can be signed, too.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of who has gone where, here is a team-by-team list of players who are on 10-day contracts, along with the date they signed (or, in some cases, the day the signing was reported):
Chicago BullsDallas Mavericks
Marquese Chriss (Jan. 10; third 10-day)Denver Nuggets
Cassius Stanley (Jan. 8; second 10-day)Indiana PacersLance Stephenson (Jan. 11; second 10-day)Los Angeles Clippers
Xavier Moon (Jan. 14; third 10-day)Wenyen Gabriel (Jan. 11; second 10-day)Los Angeles LakersStanley Johnson (Jan. 6; second 10-day)Memphis GrizzliesMiami HeatKyle Guy (Jan. 10; second 10-day)Chris Silva (Jan. 10; second 10-day)Milwaukee BucksJeff Dowtin (Jan. 7)Langston Galloway (Jan. 7)Oklahoma City Thunder
Mamadi Diakite (Jan. 11)Olivier Sarr (Jan. 9)Philadelphia 76ers
Phoenix SunsParis Bass (Jan. 12; second 10-day)San Antonio SpursTyler Johnson (Jan. 6)Anthony Lamb (Jan. 6)Toronto RaptorsD.J. Wilson (Jan. 7; second 10-day)Utah JazzZylan Cheatham (Jan. 12)Denzel Valentine (Jan. 10)Norvel Pelle (Jan. 7)
Danuel House Jr. (Jan. 6)Washington Wizards