Yes, there still is time.
With all of its deadlines, be it the mid-February trading deadline or the March 1 buyout deadline, the NBA is surprisingly lax when it comes to its playoff-roster deadline.
Spend at least one game on the roster prior to the postseason and you’re playoff eligible, provided you were not on another team’s roster beyond Match 1.
The most famous better-late-than-never example is center Charles Jones, who signed with the Houston Rockets on April 22, 1995, played in the regular-season finale against the Utah Jazz, and went on to win a championship ring that year.
Actually, there are a variety of reasons for adding players this late. For some teams, it is a chance to work with prospects through the postseason, sort of utilizing the extra weeks as the equivalent of spring football, if you will.
The Celtics took that approach last April, when they added Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney, providing extra bodies to a veteran roster during a long playoff run. Each was signed for the balance of 2009-10, plus for an option year.
With a lockout looming, it could be an approach teams with vacant roster spots take in coming weeks, even if they are not playoff bound. The upside is having players immediately available should there be an abrupt end to a lockout on the eve of the 2011-12 season.
The Bulls got a jump on the process over the weekend by adding Jannero Pargo and John Lucas III.
Will others follow?
There certainly are enough names out there, although players with European contracts cannot summarily be summoned back stateside.
So who’s out there for the picking?
More than a few familiar names, in this case with each carrying the bonus of being playoff eligible, as well:
Eddy Curry, Antonio Daniels, Rafer Alston, Mike James, Devean George, Darius Miles, Chris Richard, Anthony Johnson. Da’Sean Butler, Larry Hughes, Jamaal Tinsley, Jerry Stackhouse, Michael Finley, Ime Udoka, Ronald Dupree, Adam Morrison, Bobby Simmons, Joe Alexander, Antoine Walker, Mikki Moore, Sean Williams, Shavlik Randolph, Morris Peterson, and Kelenna Azubuike.
No, we’re not even necessarily talking the level of D-League All-Star (players in the D-League on NBA loan are not available), but there are other Jannero Pargos and John Lucases out there for the claiming.
And in the NBA, it’s never too late.