The league and the National Basketball Players Association have reached a settlement that will extend Bird rights to four players claimed off waivers this season, but will limit the retention of Bird rights for players claimed off waivers in the future, according to Howard Beck of The New York Times (Twitter links). From now on, full Bird rights will only be retained if the player is claimed off amnesty waivers. Otherwise, such players will retain only early Bird rights (Twitter links).
Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak of the Knicks will receive early Bird rights, Beck reports, since they haven't been under contract for three seasons and wouldn't have qualified for full Bird rights anyway (Twitter link). Chauncey Billups gets full Bird rights, and as a player claimed off amnesty waivers, a player in his situation would keep those rights in the future under the terms of the settlement. J.J. Hickson gets full Bird rights, but he was claimed off standard waivers. So, a player in his shoes next year would only get early Bird rights.
The league had appealed last week's ruling by arbitrator Kenneth Dam, who accepted the union's claim that being claimed off waivers is tantamount to being traded, so Bird rights should be unaffected. The settlement modifies that ruling somewhat, but won't have an effect on free agency this summer, and the timing allows teams to go into the free agent period knowing exactly what the rules are.