Mar 21, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin (17) shoots a foul shot during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Knicks defeated the Sixers 82-79. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Jeremy Lin's Bird Right's: Will the Knicks Now Be Contenders?

Friday’s decision that granted waived players like Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak their Bird right’s was huge not only for the New York Knicks this upcoming season but for future seasons down the road as well.

Feb. 19, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Steve Novak (16) and New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin (17) react during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 104-97. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

But while re-signing Lin has always been Glen Grunwald’s top priority this offseason, now that bringing both back into the fold for the 2013 season and beyond is a reality, will the Knicks be a contender in the Eastern Conference next season?

On paper at least, that answer has to be a definite yes.

Once Iman Shumpert is healthy, a starting five that includes Lin, Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will be as good as any in the Eastern Conference.

But what gaining the Bird rights of Lin and Novak allows the Knicks to do is to add to the current group.

The Knicks still have their full MLE to spend, but still must avoid spending more than $3 million of that on one player, otherwise they will be hard capped during the season.

What they can do is spend that $3 million on a veteran point guard and still have their $1.98  bi-annual to spend (possibly on Jared Jeffries) on a player as well.

Depending on what J.R. Smith decides to do by his June 26th deadline, the Knicks have the potential to have Novak, Smith and Josh Harrleson on the bench.

But they now have the ability to add a veteran point guard, frontcourt depth and if they add a productive player with the No. 48 pick in the draft.

The Knicks need to sign a guard, add one through the draft and add a pair of physical and nasty frontcourt players as well.

Who knows who those guys will be, but if Grunwald adds those pieces, parlayed with a full training camp, then there’s nothing not to like about the potential direction the Knicks are headed.

I often wrote that the decision on Lin and Novak’s Bird right’s was as important to Knicks future as anything in recent memory. That certainly turned out to be true and the chances of the Knicks being contenders in 2013 is better than at any time in the past 13 years.


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