Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jeremy Lin granted his 'early-Bird rights' but NBA will appeal

The Players Association won and so did the New York Knicks after Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak were granted their "early-Bird rights" by an arbitrator, giving the team more financial flexibility this summer.

Friday's ruling by arbitrator Kenneth Damm means that Lin— as well as Novak— will be able to re-sign with the Knicks without the confines of a salary cap. 

Within an hour of the ruling, the NBA issued a statement saying it would appeal.  If that goes over past July 1 free agency, it could create a delay in the Lin/Novak negotiations.  Union attorney Ron Klempner said he believes the appeal will be resolved by then, paving the way for Lin and Novak to have Bird rights by then.

Because the Knicks will not have to waste their $5 million mid-level exception to sign either of those players, the team can take that money to improve their roster in other ways (i.e. a veteran point guard).  Steve Nash leads the list of experienced point guards the Knicks have their eyes on but that looks like a long-shot— especially the way the organization bum-rushed Mike D'Antoni—Nash's friend and former coach in Phoenix— out of New York.

Point guards Jason Kidd, Jameer Nelson, Andre Miller and shooting guard Ray Allen could also fill the $3 million slot.

Had the arbitrator sided with the NBA, and neither player was granted his so-called early-Bird rights, the Knicks would have had to use their exception money on Lin and left them with little room to make other moves and Novak was as good as gone.

"Can't tell you how great it is to have my Bird rights preserved," tweeted Novak.  "A lot of hard work was put into making this happen."

For now, it looks like Linsanity is still at the Garden.

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