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Bird Rights


Bird Rights:
Under certain circumstances, NBA basketball  (external link) teams have the option to exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own players. This exception came to be known as the " Larry Bird  (external link) " clause.

NBA teams are allowed to exceed the payroll maximums for a variety of reasons. One of the exceptions to the cap was created to allow teams to re-sign their own players. The Boston Celtics were the first team to employ the exception, exceeding the cap to re-sign Larry Bird. Since then, it has been known as the "Bird Exception." ( Read more > Comments )

Larry Bird exception

Perhaps the most well-known of the NBA's salary cap  (external link) exceptions is the Larry Bird exception, so named because the Boston Celtics were the first team permitted to exceed the salary cap to re-sign one of their own players (in that case, Larry Bird). Free agents who qualify for this exception are called "qualifying veteran free agents" or "Bird Free Agents" in the CBA, and this exception falls under the terms of the Veteran Free Agent exception.

In essence, the Larry Bird exception allows teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own free agents, at an amount up to the maximum salary. To qualify as a Bird free agent, a player must have played three seasons without being waived or changing teams as a free agent. Players claimed after being amnestied have their Bird rights transferred to their new team. Other players claimed off waivers are not eligible for the full Bird exception, but may qualify for the early Bird exception.

Prior to an arbitrator ruling in June 2012, all players that were waived and changed teams lost their Bird rights. This means a player can obtain "Bird rights" by playing under three one-year contracts, a single contract of at least three years, or any combination thereof. It also means that when a player is traded, his Bird rights are traded with him, and his new team can use the Bird exception to re-sign him. Under the 2011 CBA, Bird-exception contracts can be up to five years in length, down from six under the 2005 CBA.

Early Bird exception

The lesser form of the Larry Bird exception is the "early Bird" exception. Free agents who qualify for this exception are called "early qualifying veteran free agents", and qualify after playing two seasons with the same team. Players that are traded or claimed off waivers have their Bird rights transferred to their new team. Prior to an arbitrator ruling in June 2012, all players that were waived and changed teams lost their Bird rights.

Using this exception, a team can re-sign its own free agent for either 175% of his salary the previous season, or the NBA's average salary, whichever is greater. Early Bird contracts must be for at least two seasons, but can last no longer than four seasons. If a team agrees to a trade that would make a player lose his Early Bird Rights, he has the power to veto the trade.

A much-publicized example for this was Devean George, who vetoed his inclusion into a larger trade during the 2007–08 season that would have sent him from the Dallas Mavericks to the New Jersey Nets.

Non-Bird exception

"Non-qualifying free agents" (those who do not qualify under either the Larry Bird exception or the Early Bird exception) are subject to the non-Bird exception. Under this exception, teams can re-sign a player to a contract beginning at either 120% of his salary for the previous season, or 120% of the league's minimum salary, whichever amount is higher. Contracts signed under the Non-Bird exception can last up to four years (down from six under the 2005 CBA).




Comments

071114 ~ About the Bird Rights

Players eligible to be signed under the Bird Exception are said to have "Bird Rights." Players must spend three years with a team to earn full Bird Rights, two years for "Early Bird Rights."

For players, having Bird Rights means a lot more flexibility in contract negotiations — in most cases, players stand to make much more money re-signing with their own teams, rather than leaving in free agency.

Restricted free agents who sign one-year contracts get veto power over trades because being traded would mean the loss of their Bird Rights.

Examples:
Devean George of the Dallas Mavericks vetoed a trade that would have sent him to the Nets because the trade would have meant the loss of his Bird Rights.
Coach Edward


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