The injury-ravaged Memphis Grizzliesput themselves on the brink of a little-known NBA record Friday when they signed free-agent guard Bryce Cotton to a 10-day contract.
Once he appears in a game for the Grizzlies, Cotton, fresh off a stint in China with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, will become the 28th player to suit up for Memphis in 2015-16, establishing a new single-season league standard.
The Grizzlies, who have been without star center Marc Gasol (foot) since early February and floor leaderMike Conley(heel) since earlyMarch, are currently tied with the 1996-97 Dallas Mavericks in using a record 27 players.
What sets this Grizzlies team apart, though, is that they are bidding to become the first NBA team to use at least 24 players in a single season and still make the playoffs.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, each of the previous nine NBA teams to play 24 different players missed the postseason. Three teams previously reached the playoffs after using 23 players:LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007-08, Houston in 2004-05 and Phoenix in 1996-97 after that Suns team started the season 0-13.
The Grizzlies awoke Friday still clinging to the fifth seed in the Western Conference at 41-34.
Entering Wednesday's home loss to Denver, Memphis had lost a total of 256 player-games to injury or illness this season, second most in the league behind the New Orleans Pelicans. The 68-7 Golden State Warriors, by contrast, have only used 16 players.
In 23 games games without Gasol, Memphis has managed to go a passable 11-12. But in nine games in March without Gasol, Conley and Zach Randolph, Memphis went 2-7, managing only a home win over New Orleans and an improbable March 7 upset in Cleveland of the Cavs with four starters out.