Jeremy Lin: Early-Bird Rights Ruling Benefits Free-Agent PG, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks can sign Jeremy Lin to a contract of any size without using up its mid-level exception, creating a perfect situation for both the team and the point guard.
The ruling affects Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak of the Knicks, Chauncey Billups of the Los Angeles Clippers and J.J. Hickson of the Portland Trail Blazers.
For now, these four players can sign with their respective teams for any amount, regardless of the salary cap situation of their respective franchises. However, the NBA plans to appeal the decision, as Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reported via Twitter:
Just released statement from NBA office confirms league will appeal arbitrator's ruling on Early Bird and Bird rights for waived players.— Jeff Zillgitt (@usat_jzillgitt) June 22, 2012
As Beck notes, the National Basketball Players Association questioned the NBA’s use of the new collective bargaining agreement to deny these players early Bird rights. Arbitrator Kenneth Dam heard the cases from both sides and ultimately sided with the NBPA.
If the ruling stands, both Lin and the Knicks will be the big winners.
Should Jeremy Lin return to the Knicks?
Now, New York can give the breakout star the contract he deserves, even though the team is over the salary cap. In addition, the Knicks do not have to use their mid-level exception on Lin or Steve Novak, and can bring in another quality role player to help the team.
Lin averaged 14.2 points and 6.2 assists for New York last season. He became famous on an international scale due to his unexpected success and Asian-American heritage.
The Knicks were weak at point guard before Lin’s ascension, and the 23-year-old has shown that he has the potential to be a quality starter in the NBA for many years to come.
With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire leading the charge, the Knicks need a player who can balance the offense and move the ball. While Lin has the ability to light up the scoreboard, he is an unselfish player and knows how to play his role.
Both parties will undoubtedly be hoping that the ruling holds up. If it does, the Knicks will have a clear path to retaining their most popular player, and Lin will be able to get a sizable contract in the biggest media market in the country.
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