An NBA arbitrator just ruled that Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak have been granted their early Bird rights, Howard Beck of the New York Times reports.Translation: the Knicks can re-sign both of them without respect to the salary cap, and still retain their mid-level exception.
It’s a huge shocker.
Before this decision, it was accepted that NBA players who were signed off of waivers were not eligible for “Bird rights.”
The players union appealed that interpretation of the rule, and this afternoon an arbitrator sided with the union — contrary to what many people thought would happen.
In the long run, the ruling further softens the salary cap since there will no be an entire category of players who’s salaries won’t fully count against the cap.
It’s super wonky, I know. But it means that the Knicks can sign Lin, Novak, and one other free-agent this summer. If the union had lost, they could only sign one of those three players.
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