Jun 12 2012
Tomorrow, Wednesday the 13th of June, the Knicks will know whether or not Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak will be granted with Early Bird rights. If so, the Knicks would be able to re-sign each player without using a cap exception, such as the Mid-Level Exception or the Bi-Annual Exception. The NBA Players Union has challenged the league’s stance that Bird Rights, as well as Early Bird Rights, are lost when a player is waived. This court ruling also will affect other teams in the league, such as the Clippers (with Chauncey Billups) and the Portland Trail Blazers (with JJ Hickson). Here is how Howard Beck of the New York Times explained the Union’s stance:
In the union’s view, Bird rights should expire only when a player clears waivers, because he is a free agent at that point who can choose a new team and sign a new contract.
The union contends that the entire rationale for allowing Bird rights to transfer was to protect players who changed teams against their will, a principle that could apply to both trades and waiver claims. (The section of the uniform player contract that deals with waiver claims, in fact, cross references the rules governing trades.)
I do not believe that the Union is going to win this claim. More