Who could rule against more of this? (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
It's arbitration day, y'all. This morning marks perhaps the most important event of New York's offseason since Jerome Jordan's secret elective femoral elongation surgery (He's 8'3" now!!!). A bunch of lawyer folks will sit down at a table to determine whether or not players signed off waivers last season-- including the Knicks' Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin-- ought to be granted Bird rights in their quests for new contracts this summer. I'm sure you're at least vaguely familiar with the dispute, but, put simply by a simple person: the current CBA only allows Bird rights (exceptions which make it easier for a player to re-sign with his incumbent team) for players traded during the season. The union will argue that guys acquired off waivers, while not literally "traded players", are in essentially the same situation and deserve the same rights. If the union wins, the Knicks can retain Lin and Novak with ease, then improve the roster using their exception money. If the union loses, the Knicks must dip into that exception money if they wish to retain Lin and Novak, then improve the roster using the scant remaining funds ($19, a stack of Baja Fresh gift cards, and a single olive).
Our friend Tomahawk Stomp made his case for the union (or at least for the union having a shot) yesterday, and Alan Hahn agrees that the union can make a pretty solid argument, but the consensus among "sources" and "experts" (and Hahn) is that the league will be able to uphold the letter of the law. David Stern sleazed his confidence in the league's position yesterday, too. One potential boon for the union (from the previous Post link) is that Jeffrey Kessler, the "bulldog negotiator" who fought for the union during the lockout, will once again take their side. At least that sounds like a boon. I expect the worst, but you never know.
(One other thing: It seems that Novak himself-- and perhaps Lin as well-- will be in attendance. Maybe he can dazzle league officials by balling up the relevant pages of the CBA and shooting them into a trashcan 22 feet away, then doing a few championship belt celebrations and backpedaling out of the courtroom.)
It sounds like we won't hear a ruling until Thursday at the earliest, but perhaps there'll be rumblings one way or the other in the interim. If there are, I'll let you know. For now, all we can do is sit, wait, hope, and maybe sacrifice a goat or two. You know, if you have one laying around.