Tuesday, February 7 marked the end of Yogi Ferrell‘s 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks, and it could have easily marked the end of his second stint in the NBA.
Dozens of NBA D-League prospects sign 10-day contracts each season. (The 10-day contract period runs from early January to earl April.) Many are viewed simply as a flyer, or an injury replacement, or an extra body to compete at practice, or an energetic presence to bring to the end of the bench.
Ferrell’s opportunity came as a result of an injury to Pierre Jackson, whose own 10-day contract came as a result of injuries to JJ Barea and Deron Williams. Jackson signed a 10-day on Jan. 15 and a second 10-day on Jan. 25, then appeared ready to write his own Cinderella story when he started the Mavs’ national TV game in Oklahoma City and tallied 9 points and 4 assists in his first 13 minutes of action.
A hamstring injury sidelined Jackson for the rest of the game and forced Dallas to reluctantly waive him on Jan. 28. The team announced the signing of Ferrell five minutes later. About 32 hours after that, he was starting against the Spurs in San Antonio.
The rest became history in what has since been called the most successful 10-day contract period in NBA history. The Mavericks assured that this story would continue when they signed Ferrell to a multi-year deal after his 10-day expired.
His numbers during those 10 days: 4-1 record, 17.2 points, 15/30 three-point shooting, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals.
Follow how YogiMania became reality, day by day:
Day 2 (Jan. 29): Leads First Mavs Win in San Antonio Since 2010
With Devin Harris and Seth Curry the only other lead guards available, the Mavs threw Ferrell right into the fire: a road game in San Antonio, where they had lost 12 straight games over seven seasons.
He started alongside Curry in an all-NBA D-League alum backcourt, playing 36 minutes and posting 9 points and 7 assists. His two free throws with 7.3 seconds left sealed the victory.
“We know he’s a high-character kid from a great program at Indiana (University),” Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle told the media afterward. “He’s on a short list of called-up guys in the D-League, so this was a real opportunity for him. He played extremely well and it was only fitting that he had a chance to knock down the two game-winning shots.”
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 30, 2017
Day 3 (Jan. 30): Scores 19 Points in Victory Over Cavs
Beating the Spurs in his first day on the job was one thing, but beating LeBron and the defending NBA champs the very next night made Yogi an instant hit.
And he wasn’t just starting in a pinch this time — he was tallying 19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals, slowing down Kyrie Irving and pouring in back-to-back buckets to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
“Was it in Erie or Buffalo?” Carlisle questioned reporters after the game on where Ferrell was when the Mavs called. “I don’t know. Nobody knows. Nobody knows where he came from.”
“I am living the dream right now. I am on cloud nine,” Ferrell told reporters.
Day 5: Make It Three Straight Wins
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) February 2, 2017
Ferrell lost his shooting touch in his third game as a Maverick, shooting 3-of-13, but still kept the offense humming in an 18-point win over the Sixers. His best highlight came on the defensive end, where he blocked Sixers center Jahlil Okafor’s layup attempt:
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 2, 2017
Day 7: Ties NBA Rookie Record With Nine Threes
Yogi Ferrell’s surprise success story became full-fledged YogiMania during the nightcap of a Friday ESPN doubleheader. The Blazers challenged him by repeatedly going under screens, and Ferrell punished them by sinking 6-of-7 from three during a 22-point first half.
He added two more triples in the third and a dagger trey with 19 seconds left to put the Mavs up 105-101. All told, playing on the national stage, outdueling Damian Lillard, and tying an NBA rookie record with nine three-pointers vaulted Yogi into sensation status.
Even Blazers head coach Terry Stotts got caught up in the storyline: “Anybody can come in and have a game, but he’s had an impact on four games. Being a minor league guy, I’m happy for him,” Stotts said. “You get an opportunity to get a 10-day, you get an opportunity to make the most of it. As disappointing as this loss is, I root for those kind of guys.”
Day 10: Posts 15 Points, 5 Assists in Loss to Nuggets
— NBA D-League (@nbadleague) February 7, 2017
With Ferrell’s deal set to expire at midnight, the Mavs ran out of steam in Denver, falling 110-87 to the Nuggets. Ferrell chipped in 15 points and 5 assists in his fifth straight start.
Despite the loss, Ferrell had made his mark — enough of a mark to land a multi-year contract and remain in Dallas for the foreseeable future.
That future remains in question. Bruce Bowen, Avery Johnson, Anthony Mason and Kurt Rambis are among the top players who parlayed 10-day contracts into successful, long-term NBA careers. Hundreds of others have not panned out. But few if any have taken advantage of the 10-day opportunity quite like Yogi Ferrell.