Monday, January 24, 2022

NBA COVID fallout: Lance Stephenson sticking with Pacers, DeMarcus Cousins to Nuggets on 10-day, per reports

With the omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading at shocking speed, the NBA and the players union have 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’s 10-day has expired, but he is expected to sign 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.

DeMarcus Cousins, recently waived by the Milwaukee Bucks, is reportedly close to signing a 10-day contract with the Denver Nuggets.

While most of these emergency signings are just that, in a few cases they’ve led to something bigger. In recent days, Theo Pinson of the Dallas Mavericks, Brandon Goodwin of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Davon Reed of the Denver Nuggets signed two-way contracts after finishing 10-days. Soon, veteran Bismack Biyombo will sign a rest-of-season contract with the Phoenix Suns, per ESPN. 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. These are the deals that Stanley Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers) and Ryan Arcidiacano (New York Knicks) signed last Thursday. After working himself into the Lakers’ starting lineup, Johnson was in limbo for a few days, as they did not have access to a hardship exception when his 10-day contract expired on Monday. Arcidiacano was in the same boat, having signed a hardship deal last Monday, only to see it voided because two Knicks had cleared protocols. 

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):

Dallas Mavericks

  • Marquese Chriss (Jan. 10; second 10-day)

Denver Nuggets

  • DeMarcus Cousins (reported Jan. 10)
  • James Ennis (Jan. 10)

Detroit Pistons

  • Cassius Stanley (Jan. 8; second 10-day)

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Wenyen Gabriel (reported Jan. 11; second 10-day)
  • Xavier Moon (Jan. 4; second 10-day)

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Stanley Johnson (Jan. 6; second 10-day)

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Jon Teske (Jan. 3)

Miami Heat

  • Kyle Guy (Jan. 10; second 10-day)
  • Chris Silva (Jan. 10; second 10-day)

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Jeff Dowtin (Jan. 7)
  • Langston Galloway (Jan. 7)
  • Luke Kornet (Jan. 3)

New York Knicks

  • Ryan Arcidiacono  (Jan. 6)

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Olivier Sarr (Jan. 9)

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Braxton Key (Jan. 5)
  • Charlie Brown Jr. (Jan. 3)

Phoenix Suns

  • Justin Jackson (Jan. 4)

San Antonio Spurs

  • Tyler Johnson (Jan. 6)
  • Anthony Lamb (Jan. 6)

Toronto Raptors

  • D.J. Wilson (Jan. 7; second 10-day)

Utah Jazz

  • Denzel Valentine (Jan. 10)
  • Norvel Pelle (Jan. 7)

  • Danuel House Jr. (Jan. 6)

Washington Wizards

  • Greg Monroe (Jan. 6)

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