NBA COVID fallout: Lance Stephenson (Pacers), Mario Chalmers (Heat), among players signing 10-day contracts

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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 made his Dallas Mavericks debut last Wednesday, after a short stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, but entered health and safety protocols the next day. Lance Stephenson, briefly Thomas’ teammate with the Grand Rapids Gold, is once again a member of the Indiana Pacers after spending 10 days with the Atlanta Hawks.

Another unlikely reunion: Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat. The two-time champion has taken his talents back to South Beach after globetrotting from Italy to Greece to Puerto Rico. Chalmers, who had last appeared in an NBA game in 2018 with the Memphis Grizzlies, was called up from — you guessed it! — Grand Rapids. 

On Jan. 5, conventional 10-day contracts — i.e. ones that do not require the hardship allowance — can be signed. This is of particular note to followers of the Los Angeles Lakers, as Stanley…

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