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

In response to the omicron variant of COVID-19, the NBA and the players union recently 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.

DeMarcus Cousins, recently waived by the Milwaukee Bucks, has been reportedly close to signing a 10-day contract with the Denver Nuggets for a few days. On Sunday, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said that, if it happens, it would be a “tremendous opportunity to reconnect with him.” Malone previously coached Cousins in Sacramento. 

While most of these emergency signings are just that, in a few cases they’ve led to something bigger. In recent days, veteran Bismack Biyombo 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. 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; third 10-day)

Denver Nuggets

Detroit Pistons

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

Indiana Pacers

Lance Stephenson (Jan. 11; second 10-day)

Los Angeles Clippers

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

Los Angeles Lakers

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

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)

New York Knicks

Ryan Arcidiacono  (Jan. 6)

Oklahoma City Thunder

Mamadi Diakite (Jan. 11)Olivier Sarr (Jan. 9)

Philadelphia 76ers

Phoenix Suns

Paris Bass (Jan. 12; second 10-day)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

Zylan Cheatham (Jan. 12)Denzel Valentine (Jan. 10)Norvel Pelle (Jan. 7)
Danuel House Jr. (Jan. 6)

Washington Wizards