The NBA players' association hearing with the league on the Early Bird Rights of players who have been waived, including Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, is underway in New York.
At issue is whether a player obtained off waivers can retain his Early Bird Rights with the team that acquired him. Lin and Novak were both claimed off waivers this past season. A union rep told ESPN New York that the hearing will take a half a day, no more, but the arbitrator will likely not make a decision today. However, he understands that he needs to issue his opinion before free agency begins on July 1.
But according to NBA salary cap expert Larry Coon, it's highly unlikely the union will win its appeal.
"The CBA is pretty clearly worded in that regard [of Early Bird Rights]," Coon said. "I really doubt [the Knicks] have any chance to win this case."
In addition, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN New York that the players' association will not win the case.
If the arbitrator somehow rules in favor of the union, Lin and Novak would be given Early Bird Rights. Specifically in Lin's case, the Knicks wouldn't need to use their mid-level exception of up to $5 million to retain him. They could use the MLE on someone else, which, according to Coon, "would be the best thing that could happen to the Knicks." That's because the ruling would basically free up the Knicks' spending. They also wouldn't have to use their bi-annual exception of $1.98 million on Novak, who tweeted that he would be attending the hearing.
If Early Bird Rights aren't granted, Lin, a restricted free agent, will likely be a Knick regardless.
"We can keep him if we want him, and we do want to keep him," Glen Grunwald said in mid-May during a media conference call announcing Mike Woodson's contract extension. "I believe that Jeremy had a great experience here. I believe he wants to come back."
Grunwald also addressed the Knicks' two other top free agents, Novak and J.R. Smith. He hopes that Smith exercises his player option of $2.443 million, and "would love" for Novak, an unrestricted free agent, to return next season.
Stay tuned for further updates.
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