The best players to sign 10-day contracts in the NBA

It’s January 5! And do you know what that means? Well, for NBA executives it marks the first day they can officially sign players to their roster on 10-day contracts. For those unaware, a 10-day deal allows a team to sign a player for three games or 10 days, whichever lasts longer. This, in turn, can help a franchise fill a need caused by injury or just bolster its bench depth.

When a player signs a 10-day contract, it’s unlikely he will earn a significant amount of time on the court. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes a 10-day can showcase a young, developing talent who can then earn a permanent roster spot for the season once coaches are able to see him up close. On other occasions, however, it’s a chance for an aging veteran to earn one last opportunity in the proverbial NBA sun.

Below, as teams seek out which players they might want to sign to 10-day deals for the 2023-24 season, let’s examine the Top 13 players to ever sign one.

“Fast” Eddie Johnson (Seattle)

Luol Deng (Chicago)

Kevin Willis (Dallas)

A single-time All-Star in 1991-92 (also an All-NBA player that season), the seven-footer Kevin Willis was a mainstay in the NBA, playing 1,424 games over a whopping 21 seasons. Willis, who is known as one of the all-time strongest NBA players, also boasts the distinction of winning a ring with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 with Tim Duncan, David Robinson and Steve Kerr.

The No. 11 pick for Atlanta in the 1984 draft, Willis returned to the ATL for one final season before retiring. But after a year out of the league, he came back yet again, signing a 10-day contract on April 2, 2007, with Dallas to man a deep bench roster spot, eventually staying on for the rest of the season. In doing so, the 44-year-old Willis became the oldest player to suit up for more than two NBA games (playing in five).

Juwan Howard (Miami)

Phil Chenier (Golden State)

The 4th overall pick in the 1971 Supplemental Hardship Draft, when players who didn’t finish four years of college could only make the NBA if they declared “hardship” financial status, Phil Chenier was a three-time All-Star (including All-NBA in 1974-75), playing most of his career with the Bullets.

While he averaged over 20 points per game in the 1976-77 season, Chenier suffered a major back injury the season after, just as the Bullets went on to win the 1978 NBA title. Sadly, he was never quite the same after that. Chenier was traded by Washington to Indiana in 1979 and waived two months later by the Pacers. His final contract in the NBA was a 10-day deal, signed on January 21, 1981 with Golden State. 

Charles Oakley (Houston)

One of the NBA’s all-time enforcers, Charles Oakley is a former teammate of Michael Jordan’s on the Chicago Bulls, where he was drafted No. 9 overall out of small Virginia Union University. Three seasons later, he was traded to the New York Knicks, where he starred alongside Patrick Ewing, John Starks and others, helping the team go to the 1994 Finals.

A two-time All-Defensive player, Oak was an ironman, playing in 1,282 games over 19 seasons. But the end of the veteran’s career featured stops in several cities, including years in Toronto, Chicago (again), Washington (to play with Jordan’s Wizards) and, finally, in Houston for his final season, signing two 10-day contracts in March of 2004 with the Houston Rockets, playing in just seven more games at 40-years-old for former Knick head man Jeff Van Gundy. Amazingly, it was rumored that Oak may make a comeback in 2007, though that never materialized. 

Jeff Malone (Miami)

A two-time All-Star, Jeff Malone was the No. 10 overall pick by Washington in 1983. With a career average of 19 points per game, the guy could score. A shooting guard from Mississippi State University, Malone dropped 24.3 points per game during the 1989-90 season with the Bullets and boasted five more 20-plus point seasons during his career.

After Washington, Malone played in Utah for three-plus seasons before he left the other Malone (Karl) in a 1994 trade that sent him to Philly and brought the Jazz back guard Jeff Hornacek. Later, Malone played parts of the 1995-96 campaign in Greece and Philadelphia before signing a 10-day contract with the Miami Heat.

Kenyon Martin (New York Knicks, Milwaukee)

Joe Johnson (Boston)

DeMarcus Cousins (LA Clippers, Denver)

DeMarcus Cousins dunks against Boston
DeMarcus Cousins dunks against Boston

Mark Jackson (Houston)

Joakim Noah (LA Clippers)

Joakim Noah watching from the sideline
Joakim Noah watching from the sideline

Isaiah Thomas (Charlotte, Dallas, LA Lakers, New Orleans)

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype