Playoff Eligibility For Late-Season Additions

March 26 2012 at 1:46pm CDT By Luke Adams

With the buyout deadline having passed last Friday night, players can no longer be waived by one team and be playoff-eligible for another. While this rule is fairly straightforward, there are a few wrinkles to it, so let's run through a few scenarios that we've seen this season to explain when a player is and isn't eligible for postseason play:

A player is waived, clears waivers, and is signed by another team before March 23rd at 11:00pm
Eligible for postseason: Yes
Example: Ronny Turiaf. Turiaf was waived by the Nuggets on March 18th and signed with the Heat on March 21st, making him playoff-eligible for Miami.

A player is waived before March 23rd, but clears waivers and is signed by another team after March 23rd.
Eligible for postseason: Yes
Example: Rasual Butler. The Raptors waived Butler on the 23rd, meaning he wouldn't clear waivers until after the deadline. But he will still be eligible for the postseason if a new team signs him.

A player is waived and is signed by another team after March 23rd.
Eligible for postseason: No
Example: No one on a guaranteed contract has been waived since the 23rd, but anyone released between now and season's end won't be eligible for the playoffs with a new team.

A player on a 10-day contract has the deal expire after March 23rd and signs a rest-of-season deal with any team after March 23rd.
Eligible for postseason: Yes
Example: Mike James. James became a free agent on Saturday, when his second 10-day deal with the Bulls expired. However, because his contract wasn't guaranteed for the season, James retains playoff eligiblity if he's signed by the Bulls or another team.

A player signs with a team after March 23rd, having not played for an NBA team yet this season.
Eligible for postseason: Yes
Example: After playing in China, Patrick Mills has returned to America and signed with the Spurs. Because San Antonio is his first NBA team this season, he'll be playoff-eligible, regardless of whether he finalized his contract before or after March 23rd. A player who has been a free agent all year long, such as James Posey or Michael Finley, could also sign now and be playoff-eligible.

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