It seemed the Knicks would lose a few of their key players this summer to free agency.

Several players who helped the Knicks get to the playoffs this season will be looking for new contracts once the NBA Finals are over. New York doesn't have much salary cap flexibility, and unless some guys decide to take a lot less money than they could make elsewhere, the Knicks could look like a very different team in 2013.

However, the NBA players union is looking to clarify something in the league's collective bargaining agreement. The result could prove to benefit the Knicks greatly.

According to Howard Beck of the New York Times, the union is asking an arbitrator to examine the rules of what are known as Bird rights. These rights allow a team to sign a player without affecting the salary cap.

The union is challenging the notion that Bird rights don't include players who were acquired through waivers. Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak both joined the Knicks after being picked up off waivers.

If the arbitrator decides that players such as Novak and Lin indeed do have Bird rights, the Knicks will have a much better chance of retaining both of them.

Because of New York's salary cap situation, they only have about $5 million to offer potential free agents. Speculation is that it will take all of that $5 million for the Knicks to keep Lin. If New York were to spend all of that money on the point guard, they wouldn't have anything left to keep unrestricted free agents like Novak.

Novak had his best season as a pro this past season. He averaged 8.8 points per game, and led the NBA while shooting 47.2 percent from three-point range. Lin started 25 games for the Knicks, averaging 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per contest.

If the union is successful, the Knicks could sign Lin and Novak, and still have the $5 million to bring in another free agent. New York could use that money to hold onto J.R. Smith, who will likely opt out of his current contract.

The Knicks might also want to use the money to go after an upper-echelon player that would be willing to come to the Big Apple for a little less money.

Steve Nash has been suggested as a potential veteran who would come to New York to try to be the final piece of a championship contender. Andre Miller, another point guard who would start over Lin, is also a possible target of the Knicks.

After the Knicks were eliminated from the postseason, head coach Mike Woodson said Jeremy Lin would absolutely be back with the team next season.