Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin talk during a game against...

Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin talk during a game against the Indiana Pacers. (March 16, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

NBA Commissioner David Stern held his latest state of the league address before the Draft Lottery last night.

One of the things he was asked about was the June 13 hearing in which the players union will appeal to an arbitrator that Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak should have their “Early Bird Rights,” which is a huge deal to the Knicks. It’s going to be difficult for the union to win, which is essentially what Stern said.

“We believe that the position that we are espousing here is the one that the contract says is the one and that the arbitrator will confirm,” Stern said.

In the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it says to have your “Bird” or “Early Bird Rights,” you cannot be waived or change teams as a free agent. Lin was waived twice last season and Novak once.

The union’s stance – and it knows it’s a tough case to win – is players should not be penalized by losing their Bird service time when they’re picked up on waivers.

If the union wins, the Knicks can re-sign Lin and Novak without using their midlevel or lower level exceptions. If the union loses, the Knicks are expected to use their full midlevel on Lin, a restricted free agent. That would leave them with the $1.9 million lower level exception, which may not be enough to re-sign Novak.


Serial tweeter J.R. Smith took to his twitter page before hitting the streets of Manhattan while most of us were sleeping this morning. Smith invited his followers to join him for a bike ride.
Check out his timeline: @TheRealJRSmith.


Here’s some more Stern. This time on the state of the Knicks-Nets rivalry with both teams calling New York home next season:

COMMISSIONER STERN: "I am hoping, for more sparks, a few verbal, some buildup. We are going to have two spectacular new buildings in New York City and we are going to have two very aggressively managed teams.

"We are awaiting the summer to see how the Nets fulfill their assurances and their aspirations, but we have seen the Knicks moving up quite a bit, and I think that we are going to have, you know two, sold-out arenas, not just for games against each other, but for all games.

"I've been out to Brooklyn. It's going to be kind of interesting. I'm not sure how much I'm going to drive there but I'm going to get there and it's probably easier not to drive.

"And both teams I think are awaiting -- of course, they are not wishing each other well on the court, but then again, none of our teams wish teams ahead of them well on the court."

Stern on whether he sees it a legit rivalry:

“Why not? You know what's interesting, it's Brooklyn, New York, but I consider it could be Brooklyn, USA. If it were just Brooklyn, it would be like I think the fifth-largest market in our league, so there's a lot of -- and the Brooklyn Diaspora is incredible, at all levels of corporate society and life, and there are lots of people, not just Howard Schultz, who are looking forward to going back to a game in their home borough, so to speak.

"So I think there's going to be a real conversation and there are lots of baseball fans that see the Brooklyn Nets as a legitimate successor to the Brooklyn Dodgers. So, yes, I think that we are going to have a great rivalry. “