Jan 7, 2022 - Sports

The rise of Omicron-era LeBrons

Lance Stephenson had himself a night on Wednesday.
Lance Stephenson had himself a night on Wednesday. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

More than 100 NBA players have signed hardship deals in the past month now that COVID-stricken teams can hand out 10-day contracts.

Why it matters: Aside from living out their NBA dream, the financial upside for these players is staggering. G Leaguers make $37,000 a year, while 10-day contracts range from $53,176 (rookies) to $151,821 (10-year vets) — for just those 10 days.

"Omicron pummeling locker rooms has presented an improbable, potentially life-changing opportunity for a certain type of basketball player: someone good enough for the NBA, but not quite good enough to already have a home."
Ben Cohen, WSJ

Standouts: Though most replacement players won't end up sticking around, some have made a strong impression, with a handful already earning a longer look.

  • Stanley Johnson, Lakers: The former lottery pick has impressed in 25 impactful minutes a night, earning another 10-day contract.
  • Alfonzo McKinnie, Bulls: After consecutive 10-day deals, he became the first hardship player to earn a rest-of-season contract, upping his salary to over $1 million.
  • Lance Stephenson, Pacers: The 10-year vet went nuclear Wednesday in his third game back with the team that drafted him, scoring 20 straight points in a six-minute span.
  • Xavier Moon, Clippers: After stints in France, Canada, Poland and Israel, Moon (Jamario's nephew) finally made his NBA debut last month. A week later, he earned a second 10-day contract.

The big picture: A record 580 players have already been used this season, with more than half the schedule still remaining.

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