NBA Free Agency: How Does Jeremy Lin's Bird Rights Ruling Affect Steve Nash?

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterJune 22, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 25, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Spurs defeated the Suns 110-106.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When is a story about minor salary cap details a major story? When it involves the Knicks, that's when! 

An arbitrator has sided with the players union in allowing players claimed off waivers to count under "early Bird rights" (via the New York Times). In short, this means that the Knicks can be permitted to comfortably sign Jeremy Lin or Steve Novak, both of whom have been claimed off waivers. As the New York Times puts it:

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.

What it also means is that New York can spend $3 million per year (the mini mid-level exception) on a free agent. In other words, let the Steve Nash whispers begin!

Without the early Bird rights exception, it would be impossible for the Knicks to retain Lin and pursue Nash. Thanks to the ruling—if upheld—New York can make that $3 million per year offer. 

Would Nash take it? Nobody but Steve can answer that question.

He's likely to garner much more than that on the open market, possibly around $10 million per year on a short-term deal. But, if Nash wants to take a pay cut at the end of his playing days, the ever cosmopolitan point guard might just make such a sacrifice.

Put it this way: Yesterday, there was no shot of Nash on the Knicks, and today, it's quite possible.