Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

BREAKING NEWS (like, for serious): Omigod, you guys…Lin and Novak Were Granted Their Bird Rights! Woo!!

UNREAL.

After hearing from pretty much every reputable source and/or NBA analyst that there was no chance the Players’ Association would win their case, arbitrator Kenneth Dam has rules that the Knicks Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak have in fact, retained their Bird Rights. Howard Beck from the NY Times broke the story:

The arbitrator, Kenneth Dam, issued his ruling Friday, siding with the National Basketball Players Association, which challenged the N.B.A.’s interpretation of the rules under the collective bargaining agreement. Dam handed the union a complete victory in the ruling.

The ruling means that both Lin and Steve Novak of the Knicks will  be able to re-sign with the team without respect to the salary cap, for a starting salary around $5 million each

In a joyous nutshell, this means the Knicks can keep Lin/Novak and save the mid-level use the mini mid-level for Steve Nash or Lamar Odom or Andre Miller or Ray Allen or Ray Felton or Ray Romano or Ray J. Johnson even ME! GAME CHANGER, MUTHASCRATCHERS! Begin rejoicing!

* UPDATE [3:27 pm] Multiple sources are reporting that the NBA will appeal the arbitrator’s ruling. Not surprising. I doubt the NBA will win an appeal, but then again, I never thought the Players’ Association would win to begin with. Joy tempered. Gah.

** UPDATE [5:21 pm] Zach Lowe at Sports Illustrated does a fine job breaking down what this means for the Knicks in terms of how they might (depending on the appeal) spend their found money. Link’s here.

*** UPDATE [6:10 pm] Jared Zwerling of ESPN.com had a brief Q&A about the arbitration case with NBA players’ association Deputy General Counsel, Ron Klempner. How the NBA can appeal the decision of an arbiter they agreed upon (it’s like my niece saying, “Do over!” when I beat her at a board game) remains a complete mystery to yours truly, but Mr. Klempner stated:

Q: How long will the eligibility of Bird and early Bird rights last for future players claimed off waivers?
Klempner:
It’s indefinite. There could be something different moving forward, and we’ll know that soon. But right now, it’s indefinite. The appeal would go to an appeals panel of three arbitrators, who the the two parties [the union and league] would have to select.

So, more waiting, with the Knicks/Lin/Novak in limbo. Joy ablated. [h/t Ruruland for the link]

Jeremy and Steve are happy. So are we. Happiness abounds.

 

 

 

58 comments on “BREAKING NEWS (like, for serious): Omigod, you guys…Lin and Novak Were Granted Their Bird Rights! Woo!!

  1. Jafa

    Wow! That is excellent news. Can’t believe we won that arbitration. There might be hope for us to overcome the Heat after all.

  2. thenamestsam

    Holy Shit! Lebron is clutch and something went right for the Knicks. What sort of backwards NBA universe are we living in. This means we can retain Lin and Novak and sign someone for the midlevel right? Maybe Lin, Novak and Ray Allen.

    That’s starting to sound like a very good team. When Shump is healthy we could have Lin, Shump, Melo, Amare, Chandler, Novak, Allen, Jeffries, J.R. as our rotation. That’s a metric ton of depth.

  3. johnlocke

    Where is ephus to explain to us what we’ve won?
    I’ll start: ability to keep Novak

    For the MLE exception: We could get Nash… I think I’d take Nash over Ray Allen. Is it really just a Nash versus Ray Allen debate? What else can we do with the new found cash / flexibility?

  4. Mulligan

    Allen is an obvious fit, although I think Nash could definitely play both the 1 and 2 and would be amazing, especially considering how hard it’s been to make the pieces on this team work together. If we grabbed Odom too, that’d be amazing.

  5. thenamestsam

    Mulligan: I think so right? We now have both mid-levels? Amazing.

    Someone smarter than me needs to fully explain the situation. I thought we probably couldn’t spend both mid-levels because in all likelihood the salaries of Lin, Novak and one mid-level guy will put us over the limit to get the exceptions. Am I wrong about that?

  6. jon abbey

    the two questions that come to mind for me:

    1) how much are we actually going to sign Novak for? I guess if it’s 3 years or less, it doesn’t matter.

    2) who is worthy of the mid-level if we can’t get Nash?

  7. ephus

    First, I was hugely pessimistic on the ability of the NBPA to win this arbitration and I was WRONG. Great win for the union and the Knicks. I would love to see the text of the ruling.

    Second, the Knicks now have the ability to keep both Novak and Lin without using the MLE. Since Early Bird rights only give the team an exception up to the median player salary, it does not increase the amount that the Knicks can offer Lin/Novak — $5 million for 2012-13. But, because the Knicks will not be using the MLE, it has two important effects:

    1. It allows the Knicks to use the full MLE on someone else, so long as they stay below the apron ($74 million). If you figure Lin for $5 million and Novak for $3 million, then the Knicks will have approximately $5 million in space until they reach the apron. But if they use the full MLE, then the apron is a hard cap.

    2. It allows the Knicks to use the mini-MLE ($3 MM) on someone, without worrying about reaching the apron and incurring the hard cap. If they did, they would also have the Bi-annual Exception ($2 MM).

    I think this ruling puts Toney Douglas in the cross-hairs. If the Knicks can get a great veteran (like Nash) for the 3 year full MLE, they will want to free up the $2 million in cap space that Toney Douglas will occupy. But the Knicks will not want to get a first round pick back (which will take up cap space), they will want the rights to an overseas player or a future pick.

  8. JC Knickfan

    I believe July 1st Knicks can use $3 million cash as part of trade and possible dump TD for future 2nd pick. He on books for $2,067,880 so any team who get him will actually make money in the deal.

    I think Knicks might need to do that just to fill-out roster with Vet min after we want to use MLE.

    Obvious another PG or starting SG seem to be the biggest need.

    Kidd or Andre Miller would my choices. I heard Sun have offered 2 year 20 million deal already so my guess he will resign.

  9. BigBlueAL

    Larry Coon is saying on Twitter the Knicks will probably not spend more than 3 mil of their mid-level to avoid a 74mil hard cap for the season. Sounds confusing lol

  10. Robert Silverman Post author

    The Coon’s also saying the NBA’s going to appeal the decision. Considering Free Agency starts in mere days, you’d have to assume a decision on the appeal will come ASAP

  11. thenamestsam

    Supposedly the NBA is going to appeal the decision, so we may be getting ahead of ourselves a little.

  12. JC Knickfan

    I would take Raymond Felton back also for mini-MLE. Amare/Felton 2nd team would have nice MDA nostalgia effect.

    Still able use mini MLE and BAE while keeping Lin, Novak and Fields is much better then before.

  13. ephus

    Here is the link to the NBPA response to the ruling.

    http://www.nbpa.org/nbpa-news/test-story

    Basically says “we won and we are really happy!”

    USA Today is tweeting that the NBA plans to appeal. To appeal (at least under the 2005 CBA), the NBA would have to file notice within 10 days and its brief in 15-25 days after the arbitrator’s ruling (unless the parties agree to a different schedule). Until the appeal is decided, the arbitrator’s decision HAS NO EFFECT. So, the timing here could get really messy, since teams start signing players on July 11.

    In ruling on the appeal, the Appeal Panel would be required to defer to the findings of fact of the arbitrator, unless they found he made a “clear error”. The arbitrator’s legal conclusions, however, would be entitled to no deference. That means, as a practical matter, that if Prof. Dam based his decision on a factual finding about how prior waived players were treated, that would be very difficult to overturn. But, if Prof. Dam just based his decision on the plain text of the CBA, the Appeal Panel would reconsider the issue as if Dam had never ruled (other than considering the strength of Dam’s reasoning).

  14. ephus

    Knicks cannot use $3 million cash to sweeten trade of Douglas until after July 1, because they already used $3 million last year to trade away Turiaf.

    Knicks have to offer Nash the full 3 year MLE to see if he will come. They cannot offer the 4 year MLE, because of the over 36 rule.

  15. Frank

    So here is our cap situation for 12-13 right now (per HoopsHype)

    1) Melo: 19.45MM
    2) Amare: 19.95MM
    3) Tyson: 13.6 MM
    4) Balkman 1.675
    5) Shump 1.68
    6) TD 2.07
    7) Harrellson 762K
    8) Jordan 762K
    = ~59.95MM

    Pending probable signings:
    1) Lin – assume 5M
    2) Novak – assume 3M
    3) JR – assume 2.9M (if he opts out and they resign him to non-Bird)
    4) Jeffries – assume 1.4M vet’s minimum
    5) Fields – assume 2M
    - = 14.4M — so basically at the tax line

    Now JR actually has control here – if he decides NOT to opt out then we have no choice about whether to keep him or not (although we will have ~0.5M savings on his contract as he won’t get the 20% non-bird raise).

    If we were to offer the full MLE to, say, Nash – we would have to find savings elsewhere — ie. not resign Fields and Jeffries, and say bye to JR if he’ll let us. Even so, that only gives us 6.3M in space – if the full $5MM is given, then that would mean we would only have 11 players under contract and basically one vet’s minimum contract to give. Would be very risky to be stuck the whole season with only 12 players.

    I think (like the rest of the basketball world) that there’s very little chance we use anything but the mini-MLE. Can we get Nash or Allen to bite for that amount? If we can get one of those two for the mini-MLE and then sign someone like Odom or Pietrus to the biannual, I REALLY like our team for next year.

  16. TelegraphedPass

    yellowboy90: What will Illyasova go for this off season?

    Waaay more than New York can offer. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get $10m per for 3-4 years. Ilyasova was really really good this year.

  17. Frank

    Blah. Sounds like use of the biannual basically turns $74M into the hard cap, just like using the full MLE. So probably no full MLE to give, probably no biannual to give. What the ruling gives us is Novak almost for sure, and it will further discourage teams from making a run at Lin since there really is no downside in the short term to matching it for the Knicks (ie. they don’t give up the MLE to do so). It also gives us a mini-MLE to spend. Still huge.

  18. ephus

    Frank,

    I think all of your numbers are correct, except one. If Jeffries comes back for the veteran’s minimum, he would not count against the salary cap at $1.4 million, but only the $750k that is the second year veteran’s minimum.

    For Nash, I would be willing to move Douglas and let Fields walk away. But if Nash wants to come here, maybe he takes the three year mini-MLE. In that scenario, you could keep Douglas and Fields and also use the BAE (Pietrus?) and bring in as many veteran’s minimum guys as you want.

  19. ephus

    To clarify, if the Knicks use the BAE, then they are hard capped at $74 million for the year.

  20. BigBlueAL

    I think Nash is a pipe dream not even worth discussing to be honest. If D’Antoni was still coach that would be another story.

  21. Z

    Are the Knicks the only team directly effected by this?

    ephus:
    I think this ruling puts Toney Douglas in the cross-hairs.If the Knicks can get a great veteran (like Nash) for the 3 year full MLE, they will want to free up the $2 million in cap space that Toney Douglas will occupy.But the Knicks will not want to get a first round pick back (which will take up cap space), they will want the rights to an overseas player or a future pick.

    What about Fields? Is there a tactical advantage now to letting him walk or S&Ting him for a pick?

  22. JC Knickfan

    S&T of RFA are virtually impossible to do now – they would let Fields walk if they want use full-MLE.

  23. ephus

    Portland is a big winner here, if they want to keep Hickson.

    On Fields, if the Knicks want to use his cap space, they will have to either S&T or renounce before July 11. Otherwise, he is a big cap hold.

  24. Frank

    Nash would be awesome, but even if Nash goes elsewhere, there are SO MANY PGs well worth the mini-MLE on the market right now – Sessions, Kidd, Felton, Andre Miller, Hinrich, etc. etc. not to mention Ray Allen, Odom, etc.

    Another guy that will probably get a lot more on the market, but that we should look at throwing the mini-MLE towards — Gerald Green.

  25. ephus

    Odom at the veteran’s minimum would be manna from heaven.

    With this ruling (if it holds up on appeal), the Knicks really are contenders over the next three years. Offering the full MLE to Nash would be a huge risk, because the team would have no ability to bring in injury replacements, but a Nash/Lin/Shumpert backcourt with Melo/STAT/Chandler/Novak/Jeffries/Jordan (and possibly JR Smith and Odom (at the vet’s minimum)) team can hang with anyone.

  26. TelegraphedPass

    Frank: Nash would be awesome, but even if Nash goes elsewhere, there are SO MANY PGs well worth the mini-MLE on the market right now – Sessions, Kidd, Felton, Andre Miller, Hinrich, etc. etc. not to mention Ray Allen, Odom, etc.Another guy that will probably get a lot more on the market, but that we should look at throwing the mini-MLE towards — Gerald Green.

    !!! Gerald Green is SO GOOD! So happy you mentioned him. I don’t think he fits a big need for this team if JR resigns, but I would take him over JR I think. I’m not sure. I value continuity.

    I take issue with you putting Ray Felton on that list, but I think PG is a much more pressing need. Many teams have secondary ball-handlers to pick up slack when the point guard isn’t available (MIA – Chalmers, Wade, ORL – Hedo, BOS – Bradley, Allen, etc.). NY had JR Smith. Ideally, somebody who can shoot the three and play in the backcourt with Lin for stretches would be huge. Or Lamar Odom. He’s the rare frontcourt player capable of running an offense.

  27. phunkdok

    Now, DAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN BOUT. The Basketball Gods have finally answered Knicks’ prayers. Can’t WAIT !!!!

  28. phunkdok

    CAN’T believe the bird rights went our way. Knicks can be as competitive this offseason as any team. Lotta dudes wanna be Knicks now. You WATCH the floodgates open. Laguardia gonna be BUSY. KNICKS, BABBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYY

  29. TelegraphedPass

    phunkdok: CAN’T believe the bird rights went our way. Knicks can be as competitive this offseason as any team. Lotta dudes wanna be Knicks now. You WATCH the floodgates open. Laguardia gonna be BUSY. KNICKS, BABBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYY

    That you, Dick Vitale?

  30. ephus

    If the Knicks do not use the full MLE, then this year’s roster will basically be the same as last year, except a mini-MLE player will replace Baron Davis and a veteran’s minimum signee will replace Mike Bibby.

  31. yellowboy90

    Who are some Amnesty candidates that might be willing to go low. what will Washington do with Blatche and will the Clippers do with Mo Williams? Another guy brought up a while ago was Terrance Williams. How good a player and fit would he be?

  32. TelegraphedPass

    ephus: If the Knicks do not use the full MLE, then this year’s roster will basically be the same as last year, except a mini-MLE player will replace Baron Davis and a veteran’s minimum signee will replace Mike Bibby.

    But that mini-MLE guy could be Steve Nash! I’m going to go against my better judgement and allow myself to believe that Nash is a probability here. I just love Steve Nash.

    Honestly, he’d be taking a pay cut to come here even if NY had the full MLE. So even if all we can offer is $3m, he’s gotta be like, “Eff it. YOLO.” Right?

  33. ephus

    TelegraphedPass: But that mini-MLE guy could be Steve Nash! I’m going to go against my better judgement and allow myself to believe that Nash is a probability here. I just love Steve Nash.

    I’m in, but this is the way I ended up hating LeBron for raising our hopes. If only he had not held that press conference so close to NYC.

    If Nash insists on the full MLE to come, I figure out a way to make it happen (renounce Landry, ditch Douglas and/or let JR Smith walk). If he is willing to come for the mini-MLE (because he wants to improve the surrounding roster), I do that in a second.

    With all of the things Grunwald did well last year, it is a shame that he could not find anyone willing to take Balkman. That extra $1.6 million in salary cap means a lot this year.

  34. Robert Silverman Post author

    ephus:

    With all of the things Grunwald did well last year, it is a shame that he could not find anyone willing to take Balkman.That extra $1.6 million in salary cap means a lot this year.

    I’d put exercizing Douglas’ option right up there with being unable to move Balkman.

  35. New Guy

    I’m keeping my hopes very realistic. This means we can bring back Lin and Novak, and use the mini-MLE to sign a reasonable backup PG.

    Maybe we can get lucky and sign Odom for the mini MLE, I have no idea what to expect his market value to be. Then we’d be stuck picking from the Bibby’s and Baron’s of the world for a backup PG.

  36. ephus

    Robert Silverman: I’d put exercizing Douglas’ option right up there with being unable to move Balkman.

    Agreed. In retrospect, exercising Douglas’ option was a mistake, but the decision had to be made by January 25. That was one month before Baron Davis returned and two weeks before the birth of Linsanity. Bringing in Novak/Lin/Davis means Grunwald still is much better than par.

  37. ruruland

    The appeal will got to an appeals panel of three arbitrators, two selected by the NBA and the Union.

    So, once again, it looks like it will come down to one arbitrator.

  38. Robert Silverman Post author

    ruruland:
    The appeal will got to an appeals panel of three arbitrators, two selected by the NBA and the Union.

    So, once again, it looks like it will come down to one arbitrator.

    One would think there’d be a greater burden of proof required to overturn the 1st arbiter’s decision.

    Got a link, ruru? I’ll add it to the article

  39. Kevin McElroy

    I think there’s a pretty decent chance that Douglas had a flukily bad year shooting 3′s and he will go back to being a passable back-of-rotation guard.

  40. ruruland

    Robert Silverman: One would think there’d be a greater burden of proof required to overturn the 1st arbiter’s decision.

    Got a link, ruru? I’ll add it to the article

    See last question: http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/21123/insights-into-the-lin-decision

    Q: How long will the eligibility of Bird and early Bird rights last for future players claimed off waivers?
    Klempner: It’s indefinite. There could be something different moving forward, and we’ll know that soon. But right now, it’s indefinite. The appeal would go to an appeals panel of three arbitrators, who the the two parties [the union and league] would have to select.

  41. EB

    I thought JR was almost certain to walk from his contract so wouldn’t that give us the full MLE? I’m for taking a risk on Odom and grabbing Allen or Kidd to play the two.

  42. ceh

    When will a copy of the decision be released? Hope it’s fact-based so it’s harder to overturn.

  43. johnlocke

    I’d also just like to take a small bow for being the first to bring up the “spirit of the law” point in a discussion with ephus, ruru and others:

    On the argument made by the NBPA:
    “We were arguing the spirit of the rule as much as we were arguing the language, which is that players who move teams, not by choice, should not have to start over with their Bird rights. They shouldn’t forfeit their valuable Bird rights, and that was a spirit that we thought was since the inception of the rule in 1995 and it should still exist today.”

  44. ruruland

    johnlocke:
    I’d also just like to take a small bow for being the first to bring up the “spirit of the law” point in a discussion with ephus, ruru and others:

    On the argument made by the NBPA:
    “We were arguing the spirit of the rule as much as we were arguing the language, which is that players who move teams, not by choice, should not have to start over with their Bird rights. They shouldn’t forfeit their valuable Bird rights, and that was a spirit that we thought was since the inception of the rule in 1995 and it should still exist today.”

    You’re the man. Hope it stands.

  45. New Guy

    Can’t tell if you’re kidding or not, but almost certainly not. All we would gain in addition to being able to resign Lin & Novak is the mini-MLE (I.e. 3 yrs, 9 mil).

  46. bobneptune

    ephus:

    With all of the things Grunwald did well last year, it is a shame that he could not find anyone willing to take Balkman.That extra $1.6 million in salary cap means a lot this year.

    Imagine all those stupid NBA executives that are too blind to see the obvious value in balkman!

  47. ephus

    bobneptune: Imagine all those stupid NBA executives that are too blind to see the obvious value in balkman!

    No one was going to take Balkman without a sweetener. Since cash and a first round pick were not available, it would have either a second round pick or the rights to an overseas player.

    With regard to the Appeal Panel, if I read the CBA correctly, it will be three neutrals, not one selected by each side and then a neutral.

    From the interview with the NBPA general counsel linked above, it sounds like the union advanced evidence that between 1995 and 2005, players did not lose their Bird rights if they were claimed off of waivers. If that is the basis for the ruling (which I would love to see), then it would be the sort of factual finding to which the Appeal Panel would defer, unless there was clear error.

    JohnLocke — you had hope when I saw only a glimmer. I am glad you were right and I was wrong.

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