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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.

Go deeper: NCAA updates COVID-19 guidance for winter sports

Go deeper

Starbucks drops worker vaccine mandate after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Tuesday that it has dropped plans to implement a vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers, AP reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

46 mins ago - Health

Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America is seeing more COVID hospitalizations than other wealthy countries during the Omicron surge, according to Our World in Data.

Why it matters: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the U.S. than these other countries.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: The end of the Omicron wave is in sight — Transplants rebound from COVID lull.
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden to announce plan to distribute 400 million masks for free — Government website for free COVID tests launches early.
  4. World: WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker