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NBA, union reach deal on Bird rights that is win for Knicks

Jun 29, 2012, 8:09 PM EDT

Injured New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin reacts during pregame ceremonies before the Knicks play against the Miami Heat in Game 2 of their first round NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoffs in Miami Reuters

This gets complex but here is the bottom line for Knicks fans — you can re-sign Jeremy Lin now and still have your mid-level exception to chase free agents such Steve Nash or Ray Allen this summer.

Remember last week that an arbitrator ruled in favor of the union — who filed on behalf of Lin, Steve Novak, Chauncey Billups and J.J. Hickson — saying that a player picked up off waivers retained his “Bird rights.”

“Bird rights” — named after Larry — are the rights of a team to go over the salary cap to re-sign their own free agents. The league said the language of the new CBA said a player forfeited those rights when waived, the union and the arbiter disagreed.

But the league appealed, and the two sides negotiated toward a settlement. Here is how the league officially defined it.

Under the settlement, the union agreed to limit the scope of the ruling by arbitrator Kenneth Dam in exchange for the league’s agreement to drop its appeal. The rule will now be that players who are claimed from waivers will have the same “Early Bird” rights as if they had been traded, but will not have full “Bird” rights unless they are claimed through the league’s amnesty procedure.

“Early Bird” is what applies to Lin and Novak and is the weaker of the Bird rights, for players who have been with a team two years (it’s more complex and nuanced than that, read about the details at Larry Coon’s CBAFAQ if you want).

Bottom line, this is a win for the players union. Billups was amnestied and claimed via amnesty so he keeps his Bird rights.

And it is a win for the Knicks. They can re-sign Lin and chase a free agent. While they can use the full $5 million mid-level exception to sign a free agent, if they do they likely go over the luxury tax line ($70 million) and trigger a hard cap on themselves at $74 million. More than likely, they only offer $3 million to free agents. However, there are scenarios where the Knicks could shed some salary and keep Lin and a $5 million free agent.

It’s a win for the Knicks to start the summer.

  1. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 29, 2012 at 8:22 PM


  2. fbropenclass - Jun 29, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    its a win to start the summer.. too bad it won’t help them win when it counts, during the season

  3. dysraw1 - Jun 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    boy talk about complicated this new cba. is a monster, thats good that the arbitrator was not over turned J Lin welcome back

  4. captainwisdom8888 - Jun 29, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    The rest of the NBA had Lin all figured out late last season…and I don’t think he’ll ever make such a big splash in this league again. I know how much you NYers love the guy, but simply because you want him to play allstar-calibur basketball doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.


    • stoudemelo - Jun 30, 2012 at 5:36 AM

      Captain you are clueless. Knicks fans are not hoping for 20 pts 12 asts from Lin they are looking for 12 and 8. A balanced attack, someone if Melo or Amare are being focused on he can drive the lane and lay it up or find Chandler. 5 mil is not a lot of spend on a starting PG for would be 3rd option

  5. moseskkim - Jun 30, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    Don’t think ny needs to add more salary. They still only have one ball to play with on offense. Trades or the phrase addition by subtraction should be the first issues to deal with.

    • dysraw1 - Jun 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      you mean a couple of sign & trades i agree,i luv what J Lin did last season. however i still want a pg that will command Melo & STAT’s respect

      • dysraw1 - Jun 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM

        by the not saying that J Lin did not have the teams respect

  6. allball23 - Jun 30, 2012 at 6:43 AM

    So happy lets go knicks. Lin come back healthy and lets go get one more piece to help us go further in the playoffs

    • knightrider1755 - Jun 30, 2012 at 8:55 AM

      You mean get pass the first round, right?

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