When journeyman point guard Gerald Madkins signed a 10-day
contract with the Warriors on March 5, as a fill-in for the
injured Bimbo Coles, he knew what the job entailed. "Basically,
I'm a security blanket," says Madkins, who was called up from
the Rockford Lightning of the CBA. "I'm here to practice with
the team and be ready in case anybody else gets hurt."
Ten-day players get $3,320 per game (or one eighty-second of the
NBA minimum of $272,250) and--in the briefest of stretches--a
shot at proving they belong in the league. In return they're
expected to show up on time, practice hard and not make waves.
Teams can sign a call-up to only two 10-day contracts; after the
second, management must either let him go or keep him for the
remainder of the year. Of the 32 players who have signed 53 such
deals this season, only five have earned a permanent place on a
roster. "It's a chance to keep the dream alive," says Madkins,
28, a former UCLA standout who played for the Cavaliers in
1993-94 and '94-95.
Which is not to say that playing on a 10-day contract is a waltz
through the Nuggets' defense. "You've got about three or four
days at most to learn the plays," says Madkins, who earlier this
season had a 10-day trial with the Heat. "Most coaches will
scale the offense back some, but it still can be difficult,
especially for a point guard, because you've got to run the team."
Madkins didn't feel comfortable on the floor with his new Golden
State teammates until he had spent 30 minutes before each of his
first two practices reviewing sets with coach P.J. Carlesimo and
his staff. Madkins had to spend even more time cramming during
his stint with the Heat. "The playbook must have had 250 to 300
plays," he says. "Most of them are the same ones all NBA teams
use, but the terminology is all different. My first three nights
there, I was reading that playbook in bed before I went to sleep."
A 10-day signee must also be prepared to be viewed as an
outsider by his own teammates. "Both sets of players, in Miami
and here at Golden State, were very nice to me, but overall it's
pretty lonely," Madkins says. "The other day Jason Caffey told
me after practice, 'I really like the way you run the team.'
That meant a lot to me. But otherwise it's tough. In Miami I
wasn't part of Riley's training camp, and here I wasn't part of
the Sprewell stuff. You definitely feel left out."
Madkins says a 10-day player must fight the temptation to break
out of his minor role and put up major numbers, which might
attract other NBA teams, if not his own. "One CBA coach actually
told me to do that," he says, "but that's not the way I was
taught. Besides, sometimes showing off like that will get you a
plane ticket home faster than not doing anything."
So Madkins sits and waits. When his name is called, he tries to
make the most of the opportunity. Entering with five minutes to
go in a 101-77 loss to the Suns last Friday, he had two points,
a rebound and an assist. Afterward Madkins sat in the visitors'
locker room and contemplated the impending end of his 10-day
run, two days hence. "It's been great here for me, but if it
doesn't work out, that's O.K.," he said with a smile. "I'll just
go home [to Los Angeles] and spend some time with my wife and my
Those plans will have to wait, however. On Sunday the Warriors
signed him to a second 10-day deal.