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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Chaundee Brown (reported Dec. 26)
Cat Barber (Dec. 25)Wes Iwundu (Dec. 23)Lance Stephenson (Dec. 22)Malcolm Hill (Dec. 22)
Al-Farouq Aminu (Dec. 25)Norvel Pelle (Dec. 25)Joe Johnson (Dec. 22)CJ Miles (Dec. 20)Justin Jackson (Dec. 18)
Wenyen Gabriel (Dec. 21)James Ennis III (Dec. 18)Shaquille Harrison (Dec. 18)Langston Galloway (Dec. 16; signed second 10-day deal on Dec. 26)
Trevon Scott (Dec. 22)Justin Anderson (Dec. 21)Luke Kornet (Dec. 21)
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)
Davon Reed (Dec. 19; second 10-day)
Deividas Sirvydis (reported Dec. 26)
Derrick Walton (reported Dec. 25)Cassius Stanley (reported Dec. 25) Cheick Diallo (Dec. 23)
Golden State Warriors
Quinndary Weatherspoon (Dec. 23)
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
Darren Collison (Dec. 24)Stanley Johnson (Dec. 24)Jemerrio Jones (Dec. 21)Isaiah Thomas (Dec. 17, expired Dec. 26)
Xavier Sneed (reported Dec. 27)
Tyrell Terry (Dec. 25)Shaq Buchanon (Dec. 25)
Javin DeLaurier (Dec. 23)
Greg Monroe (Dec. 27)
Chris Silva (Dec. 21)Rayjon Tucker (Dec. 21)
New Orleans Pelicans
Justin James (Dec. 26)
Anthony Tolliver (Dec. 26)
Jared Harper (Dec. 21)
New York Knicks
Danuel House Jr. (Dec. 23)Damyean Dotson (Dec. 21)Matt Mooney (Dec. 21)Tyler Hall (Dec. 18)
Tim Frazier (Dec. 21)Freddie Gillespie (Dec. 21)Aleem Ford (Dec. 17)Hassani Gravett (Dec. 17)BJ Johnson (Dec. 17)Admiral Schofield (Dec. 17)
Portland Trail Blazers
Emmanuel Mudiay (Dec. 22)Ade Murkey (Dec. 22)Justin Robinson (Dec. 17)
Daniel Oturu (Dec. 24)D.J. Wilson (Dec. 23Tremont Waters (Dec. 23)Juwan Morgan (Dec. 23)Brandon Goodwin (reported Dec. 20)Nik Stauskas (reported Dec. 20)
Jordan Goodwin (Dec. 26)
Jordan Schakel (Dec. 22)