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.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.

 

Warriors’ Matt Barnes on facing Kings: ‘I’m trying to kill ’em’

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The Kings were very good to Matt Barnes.

They signed him to a two-year contract worth more than $12.5 million when it seemed he wouldn’t come close to that on the market. Then they waived him, allowing him to receive all his salary and escape basketball hell for the Warriors, who make him much happier.

Yet, he’s going into tonight’s Golden State-Sacramento game with an edge.

Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle (hat tip: CSN Bay Area):

Matt Barnes holding a grudge? Why, I never.