Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak Aren't Going Anywhere

Arbitrator rules Knicks can exceed cap to re-sign Lin and Novak

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Jun 22, 2012  |  Updated 5:06 PM EDT
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Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak Aren't Going Anywhere

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No reason to stop dancing.

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Something good happened for the Knicks on Friday: the NBA Players Association won their battle to get Early Bird rights for players acquired on waivers.

The ruling matters to the Knicks because both Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak qualify for those rights.

With the arbitrator's ruling, which the NBA is appealing, the Knicks will now be able to exceed the salary cap without losing their $5 million salary cap exception. Had the ruling gone the other way, the Knicks would have had to use all or most of it to re-sign Lin while losing Novak and most hope of landing another significant piece.

The availability of the exception is the key upshot because it seemed unlikely that the Knicks would have it in their pocket until Friday's announcement.

Now, though, there's a chance at landing a free agent who can help the team weather the absence of Iman Shumpert (expected out for a couple of months after tearing his ACL) and deepen the roster ahead of a bid for a more successful season. Names like Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Andre Miller and old friend Ray Felton will likely be bandied about now that the Knicks actually have some cash to spend after the July 1 start of free agency.

It's not going to be a superstar, though Nash would be close if he's willing to leave some money on the table, but the player should be a key member of the rotation next season. All in all, it's enough to make the Knicks the second happiest team in the NBA right now.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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