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Top Nine Best NBA 10-Day Players

By Lou DiPietro

For the 2012-13 NBA season, January 5 was the date on which teams could begin signing players to 10-day contracts. Through the first 10 days of the 10-day cycle, eight players had been inked to the temporary deals, the latest being the Nets' re-addition of swingman Damion James.

While some 10-day deals, like Dallas' pickup of Mike James this year, are given to veterans at the end of their prime looking to make one last contribution in the league, the majority are rookies or young veterans brought in to provide bench depth or a temporary fill-in for injury-ravaged teams (much like many of the Nets' additions, including Gerald Green, a season ago).

However, from that latter group, a good selection have turned their 10-day look into a long and fruitful career; currently, Cleveland's Alonzo Gee is the most notable active member of that group, and the nine men listed below are the cream of a long-ago harvested crop.

  • DARRELL ARMSTRONG

    After stints in three countries and two lesser leagues, Armstrong reached the NBA in 1995 with the Magic. Four years later, he became the first player to win the Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player Awards simultaneously, and hung around the league until retiring as a Net in 2008.

  • RAJA BELL

    Signed by the Sixers in April 2001, Bell made an immediate impact, scoring 10 points in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to help Philly reach the NBA Finals. Now 36, Bell is still in the NBA with Utah, and has posted double-digit scoring averages in seven of his 11 full seasons.
  • RAFER ALSTON

    After three colleges, three uneventful years with the Bucks, and stints in both the CBA and NBDL, "Skip 2 My Lou" signed a 10-day pact with Toronto in January 2003. He parlayed that tryout into seven years as a starting point guard in the league, and would help lead Orlando to the NBA Finals in 2008-09.
  • MARIO ELIE

    After breaking into the NBA with the Warriors in 1991, Elie went on to fame as the sixth man on the Rockets teams that won back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. He later won a third in San Antonio in 1999, and is still on the bench today as an assistant to interim Brooklyn Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo.

  • CHARLES "BO" OUTLAW

    Undrafted out of college, Outlaw played in the CBA before the Clippers gave him a shot in February 1994. Fourteen years later, Outlaw retired with nearly 1200 blocked shots and a career field goal percentage of .567 that currently ranks in the NBA's all-time Top 10.

  • AVERY JOHNSON

    Then in his fourth NBA season, a 26-year-old Johnson signed a 10-day deal with Houston in 1992 hoping to keep his career afloat. He blossomed, and over the final 12 years of his career, Avery finished in the Top 10 in assists four times, won an NBA title in 1999, and had his No. 6 retired in San Antonio.

  • ANTHONY MASON

    At 24, Mason was already a five-league journeyman when he signed a 10-day deal with Denver in 1990-91. He joined the Knicks the following summer, and over the next 11 years, he would score nearly 10,000 points, win the 1995 Sixth Man of the Year Award, and play in the 2001 All-Star Game.

  • BRUCE BOWEN

    Bowen made his NBA debut on a 10-day deal with Miami in 1997, and went on to become one of the league's best three-point shooters and perimeter defenders. He was named to the NBA's All-Defensive Team eight times, won three titles with the Spurs, and also has his number retired in San Antonio.

  • KURT RAMBIS

    Rambis never got in a game during his initial stint with the Knicks in January 1981, but he joined the Lakers in 1981-82 and went on to win eight rings: four as a key player on the "Showtime" squads of the 1980s and four more from 1999-2009 as an assistant coach and front office advisor.

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