Early Bird Rights hearing set for June 13

The NBA players' association confirmed with ESPN New York on Wednesday that the union's hearing on the Early Bird Rights of waived players, which include Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, will take place on June 13.

At issue is whether a player obtained off waivers can retain his Early Bird Rights with the team that acquired him. Lin and Novak were both claimed off waivers this past season.

But according to NBA salary cap expert Larry Coon, it's highly unlikely the union will win the appeal with the NBA.

"The CBA is pretty clearly worded in that regard [of Early Bird Rights]," he told ESPN New York. "I really doubt [the Knicks] have any chance to win this case."

If the arbitrator somehow rules in favor of the union, Lin and Novak would be given those rights. Specifically with Lin, the Knicks wouldn't need to use their mid-level exception of up to $5 million to retain him. They could use the MLE on someone else, which, according to Coon, "would be the best thing that could happen to the Knicks." That's because the ruling would basically free up the Knicks' spending.

If Early Bird Rights aren't granted, Lin, a restricted free agent, will likely be a Knick regardless.

"We can keep him if we want him, and we do want to keep him," said Glen Grunwald last week during a media conference call announcing Mike Woodson's contract extension. "I believe that Jeremy had a great experience here. I believe he wants to come back."

Grunwald also addressed the Knicks' two other top free agents, Novak and J.R. Smith. He hopes that Smith exercises his player option of $2.443 million, and "would love" for Novak, an unrestricted free agent, to return next season. Novak would likely sign for the bi-annual exception of $1.98 million or veteran's minimum of $1.4 million.

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