Playoff Eligibility For Late-Season Signings

The NBA's buyout deadline passed on March 1st, meaning 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:

Scenario: A player was waived on or before March 1st, but cleared waivers and is signed by another team after March 1st.
Eligible for postseason: Yes
Example: The Kings reached a buyout agreement with Aaron Brooks on March 1st, officially waiving him that day. Brooks cleared waivers a couple days later and eventually signed with the Rockets. Because Brooks was waived before 11:00pm CST on March 1st, he can play in the postseason for Houston.

Scenario: A player is waived and is signed by another team after March 1st.
Eligible for postseason: No
Example: Raja Bell and Dominique Jones are among the players that have been released by their respective teams since March 1st. Those guys haven't found new clubs yet, and may find it trickier than usual, since being waived after March 1st cost them their postseason eligibility.

Scenario: A player on a 10-day contract has the deal expire after March 1st and signs a rest-of-season deal with the same team or another team.
Eligible for postseason: Yes
Example: After being released from his guaranteed contract by the Timberwolves in early February, Louis Amundson finalized a 10-day contract with the Bulls on March 2nd. When that contract expired, he retained his postseason eligibility, since he hadn't been released from a guaranteed deal since March 1st. Amundson signed a rest-of-season deal with the Hornets this week, so he won't be participating in the playoffs because of New Orleans' place in the standings, but he remains postseason-eligible. If the Hornets were to waive him, however, he would be ineligible to play in the postseason with another club.

Scenario: A player signs a rest-of-season contract with a team after March 1st, having not played for an NBA team yet this season.
Eligible for postseason: Yes
Example: Players like Gilbert Arenas and Tracy McGrady, who played in China all season and haven't been on an NBA roster, would be postseason-eligible if they signed with an NBA team today, however unlikely that may be.

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