The New York Knicks have caught a break.
An arbitrator sided Friday with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to grant early Bird rights to Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, according to a report from Howard Beck of the New York Times.
The surprise ruling will give the Knicks significantly more cap flexibility as they enter the 2012 NBA offseason. They will now be able to spend more money to retain Lin and Novak while also holding onto their mid-level exception to use on another player.
All players claimed off waivers will be impacted by the ruling, which means that Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups and Portland Trail Blazers forward J.J. Hickson, among others, now have Bird rights with their respective teams.