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NBPA Wins Bird Rights Ruling

THURSDAY, 4:06pm: The union and the league are moving toward a settlement in the case, which could be finalized as soon as Friday, Howard Beck of The New York Times writes. The most likely outcome will allow players claimed off waivers to retain some form of Bird rights, Beck says.

June 22, 7:28pm: The NBA players' union doesn't think that an appeal from the league can be resolved by July 1st, which would effectively mean that the union's win will stand, tweets Jared Zwerling of (via Twitter).

June 22, 2:25pm: The NBA will appeal Dam's ruling, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Zillgitt adds that the appeal will be heard by a panel, but that no date has been set yet (Twitter link).

June, 22, 1:37pm: Kenneth Dam, the arbitrator tasked with making a decision on last week's Bird Rights hearing, has sided with the NBPA, according to Howard Beck of the New York Times. Dam's decision means that players claimed off waivers won't have their Bird clocks reset. As such, Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak will have Early Bird rights this offseason, while Chauncey Billups and J.J. Hickson will regain full Bird rights.

The ruling comes as a huge surprise, as we'd heard over the last few weeks that the decision was expected to go in favor of the league, rather than the players' union. While the ruling may not have a huge impact on Billups or Hickson, it's a major boon for the Knicks and their free agents. With Lin's and Novak's Early Bird rights in hand, New York can now match an offer for either player using the Early Bird exception, without dipping into its mid-level. This will allow the Knicks to pursue an outside free agent using the MLE (starting at either $3MM or $5MM), while giving them the option to retain Lin, Novak, and Landry Fields by other means.

Like the Knicks' duo, Hickson and Billups would also have been limited to Non-Bird rights had the league won the decision, but the impact for them won't be as significant. Portland will likely have the cap space to re-sign Hickson without using a cap exception anyway, while Billups, as an amnestied player, was eligible for an offer up to 120% of his full salary ($14.2MM), giving the Clippers more than enough flexibility to retain him.

If you're confused about Bird rights or other aspects of the CBA, be sure to check out Hoops Rumors' glossary, which includes entries on Bird rights, Early Bird rights, Non-Bird rights, and the Gilbert Arenas provision, which figures to apply to Lin. As our Bird rights entry outlines, a player's Bird clock previously reset to zero when he was released and claimed off waivers by another club. However, it appears going forward that waiver claims will be treated like trades, in which a player's Bird clock continues to run. As Mark Deeks of ShamSports points out, the wording in the CBA clearly states that waiver claims aren't equal to trades, so it's unclear how exactly the players' union won the ruling.


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2 thoughts on “NBPA Wins Bird Rights Ruling

  1. Chuck

    Shocking stuff! The CBA wording seems pretty clear, as Deeks points out. I hope Kenneth Dam explains his ruling at some point or another. I would love to hear his rationale.

  2. BWOzar

    As a Knicks fan, I can’t help but say YES! YES! YES!

    Overall, it’s a nice little win for player salaries in the wake of the new CBA.

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