NBA COVID fallout: Joe Johnson (Celtics) and Isaiah Thomas (Lakers) among players on 10-day contracts


With more than 90 players in COVID health and safety protocols and the omicron variant 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.

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. 

For an NBA game to be played, both teams are required to have eight players available. The league has postponed nine games this season, and several teams have played severely shorthanded. 

Before the rule changes, there had already been a wave of signings using the hardship exception, which allows a team to temporarily bypass the roster limit. In one particularly preposterous case, the Chicago Bulls signed Stanley Johnson to a 10-day contract on Dec. 9, only for him to test positive two days later, to which coach Billy Donovan said, “We need a hardship for a hardship right now.” The Bulls only played one game before Johnson’s 10-day expired, the result of two postponements, and he was inactive for it, isolating in accordance with health and safety protocols.  

Last week, two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas joined the Los Angeles Lakers fresh off a 42-point performance in his G League debut with the Grand Rapids Gold. Lance Stephenson, also called up from Grand Rapids, made his Atlanta Hawks debut on Wednesday, the same day that Joe Johnson played his first NBA game since the 2017-18 season. Johnson, who turned 40 in June, months before winning his second BIG3 MVP, has reunited with the Boston Celtics, the team that drafted him 20 years ago. 

Also on Wednesday: The Orlando Magic, who have six players on hardship exceptions, used a lineup entirely composed of them.

If you’re having trouble keeping track of who has gone where, here is a team-by-team list of players who have recently signed 10-day contracts, along with the date they signed (or, in some cases, the day the signing was reported):

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Atlanta Hawks

Wes Iwundu (Dec. 23)Lance Stephenson (Dec. 22)Malcolm Hill (Dec. 22)

Boston Celtics

Joe Johnson (Dec. 22)CJ Miles (Dec. 20)Justin Jackson (Dec. 18)

Brooklyn Nets

Wenyen Gabriel (Dec. 21)James Ennis III (Dec. 18)Shaquille Harrison (Dec. 18)Langston Galloway (Dec. 16)

Chicago Bulls

Ersan Ilyasova (Dec. 23)Mac McClung (Dec. 23)Alfonzo McKinnie (Dec. 20; second 10-day)

Cleveland Cavaliers

Trevon Scott (Dec. 22)Justin Anderson (Dec. 21)Luke Kornet (Dec. 21)

Dallas Mavericks

Charlie Brown Jr. (Dec. 23)Carlik Jones (Dec. 23)Brandon Knight (Dec. 23)George King (Dec. 22)
Marquese Chriss (Dec. 21)
Theo Pinson (Dec. 20)

Denver Nuggets

Davon Reed (Dec. 19; second 10-day)

Detroit Pistons

Golden State Warriors

Quinndary Weatherspoon (reported Dec. 22)

Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Lakers

Jemerrio Jones (reported Dec. 20)Mason Jones (reported Dec. 20)Isaiah Thomas (Dec. 17)

Miami Heat

Milwaukee Bcks

Javin DeLaurier (Dec. 23)

Minnesota Timberwolves

Chris Silva (Dec. 21)Rayjon Tucker (Dec. 21)

New Orleans Pelicans

New York Knicks

Danuel House Jr. (Dec. 23)Damyean Dotson (Dec. 21)Matt Mooney (Dec. 21)Tyler Hall (Dec. 18)

Orlando Magic

Tim Frazier (Dec. 21)Freddie Gillespie (Dec. 21)Aleem Ford (Dec. 17)Hassani Gravett (Dec. 17)BJ Johnson (Dec. 17)Admiral Schofield (Dec. 17)

Philadelphia 76ers

Sacramento Kings

Emmanuel Mudiay (Dec. 22)Ade Murkey (Dec. 22)Justin Robinson (Dec. 17)

Toronto Raptors

D.J. Wilson (Dec. 23Tremont Waters (Dec. 23)Juwan Morgan (Dec. 23)Brandon Goodwin (reported Dec. 20)Nik Stauskas (reported Dec. 20)

Washington Wizards



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