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]