NBA, union reach deal on Bird rights that is win for Knicks

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This gets complex but here is the bottom line for Knicks fans — you can re-sign Jeremy Lin now and still have your mid-level exception to chase free agents such Steve Nash or Ray Allen this summer.

Remember last week that an arbitrator ruled in favor of the union — who filed on behalf of Lin, Steve Novak, Chauncey Billups and J.J. Hickson — saying that a player picked up off waivers retained his “Bird rights.”

“Bird rights” — named after Larry — are the rights of a team to go over the salary cap to re-sign their own free agents. The league said the language of the new CBA said a player forfeited those rights when waived, the union and the arbiter disagreed.

But the league appealed, and the two sides negotiated toward a settlement. Here is how the league officially defined it.

Under the settlement, the union agreed to limit the scope of the ruling by arbitrator Kenneth Dam in exchange for the league’s agreement to drop its appeal. The rule will now be that players who are claimed from waivers will have the same “Early Bird” rights as if they had been traded, but will not have full “Bird” rights unless they are claimed through the league’s amnesty procedure.

“Early Bird” is what applies to Lin and Novak and is the weaker of the Bird rights, for players who have been with a team two years (it’s more complex and nuanced than that, read about the details at Larry Coon’s CBAFAQ if you want).

Bottom line, this is a win for the players union. Billups was amnestied and claimed via amnesty so he keeps his Bird rights.

And it is a win for the Knicks. They can re-sign Lin and chase a free agent. While they can use the full $5 million mid-level exception to sign a free agent, if they do they likely go over the luxury tax line ($70 million) and trigger a hard cap on themselves at $74 million. More than likely, they only offer $3 million to free agents. However, there are scenarios where the Knicks could shed some salary and keep Lin and a $5 million free agent.

It’s a win for the Knicks to start the summer.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.