NEW YORK — To the surprise of virtually no one, NBA Commissioner David Stern believes the league will win the Bird Rights arbitration hearing regarding Knicks Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak on June 13.
“We believe that the position that we are espousing here is the one that the contract says is the one and that the arbitrator will confirm,” Stern said Wednesday in New York. “And whatever the outcome, it won’t affect the rivalry between the Knicks and the Nets.”
The hearing will determine if the Knicks hold the Bird Rights to Lin and Novak, both of whom were claimed off waivers.
The union is arguing waived players should retain their rights, but the league is stating a player’s clock should be “reset” once he’s acquired through waivers.
If the union — and thus the Knicks — win they could re-sign both players while still maintaining their mid-level exception of $5 million for a point guard like Steve Nash, Raymond Felton or Jameer Nelson.
“We’re interested bystanders, let’s say,” Knicks GM Glen Grunwald said of the hearing. “Obviously it will impact some things that will provide us a couple more options in terms of trying to improve our team but it’s still the same basic deal.”
Asked if he thought the union had a good chance to win the case, Grunwald said: “I don’t really have an opinion on it although I am a recovering lawyer. I don’t really think that it’s my position to make a comment on the merits of the case.”