Lawyers for the National Basketball Association and its players’ union held an almost four-hour arbitration hearing that may determine the futures of New York Knicks players Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak.
Attorneys Jeff Kessler and Ron Klempner represented the union, which filed for the hearing to fight part of the collective bargaining agreement that the league says strips the Knicks of rights allowing teams to exceed the salary cap in re- signing their own players.
The 2005 and 2011 labor contracts say players maintain their so-called Bird and Early Bird rights if they switch teams “by trade.” Bird rights are named for former Boston Celtics Hall of Fame player Larry Bird, and Early Bird rights are a form of the rule for players who have been in the league a shorter time.
The union argues the rule also should include players taken off waivers.
Novak, who led the NBA with a .472 3-point shooting percentage, attended the hearing before arbitrator Kenneth Dam, who told the parties that he would rule prior to the start of free agency on July 1.
Other players affected by the outcome are Chauncey Billups of the Los Angeles Clippers and J.J. Hickson of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Lin is a Harvard University graduate who went from bench warmer to the Knicks’ starting point guard in February, averaging 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game as the team made the playoffs.
Rick Buchanan and Howard Ganz represented the NBA, which interprets the word “trade” as a swap between teams. That wouldn’t include players who moved through waivers, as Lin did in joining the Knicks following his release by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.
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