New York (Sports Xchange) -

NBA free agents claimed off of waivers can keep their rights to be paid outside of teams' salary caps, an arbitrator ruled Friday.

New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, Los Angeles Clippers' Chauncey Billups and Portland Trail Blazers' J.J. Hickson secured Bird and early Bird rights in a hearing between the NBA players' association and the league, ESPN New York reported Friday.

Arbitrator Kenneth Dam affirmed that players claimed off waivers can retain their valuable Bird and early Bird rights when they become free agents. If Lin, Billups, Novak and Hickson re-sign, then their teams are allowed to exceed the salary cap.

The Boston Celtics were the first team to use this exception, re-signing star forward Larry Bird to go over the cap.

Lin, Novak, Billups and Hickson were waived this past season and claimed by other teams. They become free agents July 1.

Also, future players claimed off waivers will benefit from Friday's ruling.

The NBA plans to appeal the ruling. The players' association does not believe the appeal will be resolved by July 1, which starts the free agency period.

Lin and Novak will have early Bird rights, which means they can re-sig for 175 percent of their salary from the previous season or the NBA average salary, whichever amount is higher.

Billups and Hickson will have Bird rights, so they can re-sign up to the maximum salary.

The Knicks are helped significantly by the ruling. They can keep Lin, Novak and Landry Fields at up to $5 million each and then sign an additional player at $3 million or less with their mid-level exception. The Knicks may be seeking an experienced point guard, including Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Andre Miller or Raymond Felton.

They can also hold on to J.R. Smith if he accepts his player option of about $2.5 million. He has a June 26 deadline to decide if he wants to use the option. If Smith opts out, he can re-sign at 120 percent of his previous year's salary using a non-Bird exception.

The Knicks would then only have veteran's minimum contracts of $1.4 million to spend on the remainder of their roster.