NY TimesAn arbitrator has granted Jeremy Lin his so-called early-Bird rights, which would give the Knicks much greater latitude in free agency on July 1. However, the N.B.A. intends to appeal the ruling, according to a person informed of the league’s thinking, which leaves in doubt what Lin’s rights will be when free agency opens. The arbitrator, Kenneth Dam, issued his ruling Friday, siding with the National Basketball Players Association, which challenged the N.B.A.’s interpretation of the rules under the collective bargaining agreement. Dam handed the union a complete victory in the ruling. The ruling means that both Lin and Steve Novak of the Knicks would be able to re-sign with the team without respect to the salary cap, for a starting salary around $5 million each. Just as critically, it means that the Knicks would not need to use their midlevel exception to sign either player, which would allow them to use that slot for another free agent.

Pretty huge break for the Knicks here, who somehow found themselves in yet another cap predicament just two years after Donnie Walsh cleared them out. Signing Lin for $5 mil and being able to throw another 5 mil at a guy like Steve Nash or Ray Allen could be a big time help.

Of course none of this solves the problem that the focal point of this franchise is Carmelo Anthony. You can add all the supporting bits and pieces you want but with Melo at the center of things you ain’t ever competing with Lebron, Rose, or Durant. Plain and simple.