Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak's New Bird Rights Will Save the Knicks' Offseason

Sam QuinnContributor IIIJune 22, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: (L) Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks drives against (R) Chris Johnson #17 of the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

In a shocking ruling earlier today, arbitrator Kenneth Dam ruled that Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, who were claimed off of waivers by the Knicks, will retain their early Bird rights.

I cannot overstate how important this is for the Knicks. Before this ruling, there was a very significant chance that the Knicks would lose at least one, if not both of those players, but now the Knicks can go over the cap to retain them.

Had they not been given Bird rights, the Knicks would have had to use their mid-level or bi-annual exceptions to try to sign Lin and Novak. While the mid-level might be enough to bring back Lin, it seemed nearly impossible for the Knicks to bring back Novak with the bi-annual exception.

But now the Knicks can bring both back and retain their exceptions. That means the Knicks can not only keep their own players, but they can actually go out and chase some veterans.

Guys like Ray Allen and Lamar Odom have been linked to the Knicks, and both would be great additions to the team.

If the Knicks want to compete with Miami next year, they're going to have to find ways to score other than Carmelo Anthony isolations. Having a mid-level player could solve that problem.

A starting lineup of Jeremy Lin, Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler with Steve Novak and Iman Shumpert (when he recovers) as the principal bench players would give the Knicks one of the league's most talented teams.

Allen would get a ton of open shots with that much talent. Lin would give the Knicks a distributor to get everyone the ball, and if Carmelo and Amar'e can just learn to play together, the Knicks could be a dangerous team.

Ray Allen is just one example of the type of free agents the Knicks can now chase. This ruling has given the Knicks a real chance to actually improve their roster. Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak will be back next year, and they're bringing a talented veteran with them.