An arbitration win for the players’ union is huge for the Knicks
While the Miami Heat were getting a much-deserved day off after winning the NBA title, the Knicks took a huge step towards signing Jeremy Lin because of NBA arbitrator Kenneth Dam’s ruling on Friday.
At issue was a dispute between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association over league’s interpretation of rules governing so-called early Bird rights in the new collective bargaining agreement. In simple terms, Bird rights over a player (usually one who has been with the same team for three straight years) allow teams to re-sign a player to a midlevel deal without it counting against the salary cap. A version of those right are called “early Bird rights” and are given to players who have been in the league at least two seasons.
Business Insider’s Tony Manfred sums up the dispute:
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.
For the Knicks, the ruling means that they can re-sign Lin to 2-4 year contract at $5 million per year AND re-sign Steve Novak to a minimum-salary deal without either signing counting against the salary cap. That would give them the freedom to use their midlevel salary cap exception (I know, the cap’s more complicated than the federal tax code) to make a splash in free agency. One name being thrown around is veteran sharpshooter Ray Allen, but it’s too early to predict right now.
Much more on the Knicks’ suddenly rosy offseason picture coming Monday. Until then, Knicks fans, something to whet your appetite for next season.