The NBA has not been spared by the recent COVID-19 surge sweeping across the country. Dozens of players have entered the league's health and safety protocols, and seven games have been postponed because teams didn't have enough healthy players.
As a result, the NBA and the NBPA came to an agreement to allow teams to temporarily add players to their rosters. For each player who tests positive for COVID-19, teams will be allowed to sign one replacement player. And for every two players who test positive, teams will be required to sign a replacement. That's opened up a number of opportunities, not only for young guys looking to finally break into the NBA, but veterans hoping for a second chance.
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One of the latter is Lance Stephenson, who is set to join the Atlanta Hawks on a 10-day hardship contract, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein. The Hawks' most recent game was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 31-year-old Stephenson hasn't played in the NBA since spending the 2018-19 season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Since then he had a stint in China playing for the Liaoning Flying Leopards, and recently joined the G League where he played for the Grand Rapids Gold. Last week he recorded a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Stephenson was at his best with the Indiana Pacers in the early-to-mid 2010s, where he excelled as a versatile, defensive-minded wing. He helped them make multiple deep playoff runs, and finished as runner-up for Most Improved Player in 2014. The extent to which he can contribute on the NBA level remains to be seen, but in Atlanta he'll be reunited with head coach Nate McMillan for the third time, which will certainly help.