Stern sees quick decision on Lin 'Bird Rights'

Injured Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin talks to

Injured Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin talks to the media as the Knicks clean out their lockers the day after being eliminated from the playoffs by Miami. (May 10, 2012) (Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy)

OKLAHOMA CITY -- NBA commissioner David Stern said the Knicks should know quickly whether they can re-sign Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak and still have their free-agent exceptions. But Stern doesn't expect they will.

The hearing for Lin and Novak's "Early Bird Rights" is Wednesday. If the arbitrator rules in favor of the union, the Knicks can pay Lin and Novak up to $5.5 million and still have the midlevel and lower-level exceptions for other free agents. If not, Lin likely will eat up most or all of the midlevel exception.

Lin will be a restricted free agent and can't make more than the average salary. The Knicks plan to match all offers for Lin and would have to use the midlevel exception if the league comes out on top.

"I think it's going to be relatively fast and we're anticipating that the ruling is in favor of the view espoused not just by the league but the clear language of the agreement," Stern said.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement reads to have your "Bird" or "Early Bird Rights," you can't be waived or change teams as a free agent. Lin was waived twice last season and Novak once.

The union's stance is players should not be penalized by losing their Bird service time when they're picked up on waivers.

After the decision, the next big date for the Knicks is June 26 -- the deadline for J.R. Smith to pick up his $2.44 million option for next season.

 

No * for 2012 champs

Dwyane Wade said there shouldn't be an asterisk attached to the champion of this lockout-shortened season because it was "even more challenging" than an 82-game grind. "I think the guys at the end of the day who get crowned for this season really should feel like real champions," Wade said, "because you have to be a real champion to make it all the way to the end of this season."

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